Distilling the problem down

Similar to Kevin Drum and the link between lead and crime, Josh Marshall has started building an extended narrative in support of a simple but powerful idea. This time it has to do with why Democrats keep underperforming in the midterms and to a lesser degree elsewhere as well. He kicked it off with a lengthy must-read including plenty of data but the nut comes down to this.

[Y]ou cannot make middle class wage growth and wealth inequality the center of your politics unless you have a set of policies which credibly claims some real shot at addressing the problem.

I don’t know, maybe it seems complicated to other people, but as a native Pittsburgher the answer seems pretty clear to me. Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

Those bosses who paid Pinkertons to mow down Homestead strikers in 1892 wanted the same thing Kochs want today. Keep the workers divided and insecure and you can do anything you want. Guess why Republicans throw their bodies on the tracks to stop the Affordable Care Act or any other plan to guarantee health coverage. When it comes to keeping drones loyal the constant fear of sickness and bankruptcy works better and costs less than an employee gym or paid family leave.






277 replies
  1. 1
    Cervantes says:

    Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

    So important and yet so little understood or even debated.

  2. 2
    Buddy H says:

    Have you seen the latest with Glen Beck? His mystery illness; he visited a million specialists trying to get a diagnosis (what health plan is he on?) and of course he receives a million different opinions. Finally, he visits a quack and gets a bulls**t diagnosis. His real problem seems to be anxiety, but he won’t admit that, instead opting for something physical:

    http://theness.com/neurologica.....narrative/

    Is he honestly misinformed by medical woo, or is he trying to build an alibi for his $ponsors who would be frightened away from someone with emotional issues?

  3. 3
    japa21 says:

    One of the biggest accomplishments of the RW is the demonization of unions. Unions represent greed and all the reasons why other people can’t have good things. They extort businesses and governments and make themselves rich and their members get undeserved pensions.

    The argument is why should they “union members” get all those things when you don’t? Do they work harder than you? They are out to get your hard earned money.

    And we almost never hear the proper response. Why aren’t you getting the same benefits as union members? Companies can afford to give them to you but don’t.

    The Republican’s whole strategy is to bring everybody down to the lowest level and make people believe that is the right thing to do.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Erik says:

    Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

    Those bosses who paid Pinkertons to mow down Homestead strikers in 1892 wanted the same thing Kochs want today. Keep the workers divided and insecure and you can do anything you want. Guess why Republicans throw their bodies on the tracks to stop the Affordable Care Act or any other plan to guarantee health coverage. When it comes to keeping drones loyal the constant fear of sickness and bankruptcy works better and costs less than an employee gym or paid family leave.

    I wonder if you know just how brilliant this little nugget is. Obvious, but so clearly the nut of the problem. We should make it our mission to spread this quote far and wide. Even cut it down just a bit.

    The answer is simple. Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them. Keep the workers divided and insecure and you can do anything you want. When it comes to keeping drones loyal the constant fear of sickness and bankruptcy works better and costs less than an employee gym or paid family leave.

    Very nice, Tim.

  6. 6
    Jose Padilla says:

    That’s a great reminder of the bloody history of the organized labor movement, but when you say the word “union” to the average American, they think the Mafia, Jimmy Hoffa, Teamster violence, etc., not Homestead strikers being shot in 1892.

  7. 7
    David Fud says:

    The basic structure of unions in America drove us to the wrong conclusions and the wrong structures. The unions in Europe, on the other hand, invest their pension money into the business and have a seat in the board room so that they can drive the discussion. They are a shareholder, not a stakeholder. They share in the fate and fortune of the company. They are at the table of power to drive the discussion for the benefit of their shareholders, who happen to also be employees. It changes the nature of their negotiating position and it changes the nature of their demands because they are owners too.

    When the unions decided to become a subordinate player and let big daddy corporations take care of them in the US in the past, they made a fundamental error. They law strongly protect minority shareholders. The laws protecting unions, on the other hands, are only for unions, unlike the shareholder laws that apply to literally every owner in the US financial system. You could not possibly unroot minority owner laws, without destabilizing the financial system. Unions? Part of the cost structure, to be destroyed politically by the most tenacious political class – the 1%.

    The only thing that will bring back unions at this point is a wholesale decision of our populace that they have to support each other instead of trying to get ahead of each other. The FUIGM culture undermines collective action and unions will be dead until our culture starts playing as a team instead of as a bunch of individuals.

  8. 8
    greennotGreen says:

    Not that unions have never overplayed their hands, but yes, they are absolutely necessary, even when you think they aren’t.

    I live and work in a right-to-work (for a pittance) state. A union does exist for my class of work, but there is no union presence at my institution, and I never thought we needed one until we did. A change in administration and the double-whammy of an economic downturn and a state that refused to expand Medicaid, and jobs in the lower levels were slashed. Meanwhile, higher level administrators were promoted and new, higher-level positions created. In over 25 years there, I’ve never seen morale this low. However, it sure is easier to find a parking place.

    A union would have protected at least some of the jobs, would have prevented the selling of vacation time at 50%, and I think would have prevented 15 year employees from being given an hour to clean out their desks and leave the premises for the crime of being expendable. (Some positions were later refilled because the expensive consultants who told the admins who to fire were wrong.)

    I’m close to retirement, and I just don’t have the fire in my belly, but just maybe I can put a bee in the bonnet of a younger person: “We need a union!”

  9. 9
    Cervantes says:

    @Jose Padilla: Yes, it’s true that organized crime used the unions to gain further access to power and money (in otherwise legitimate enterprises).

    Unions also had to distinguish themselves from communists and other radicals — which to some extent they succeeded in doing, at a cost.

  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jose Padilla: Exactly right, and that’s a very high hurdle to overcome. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I don’t see a large-scale return to the old union model, which was built for a different era. People don’t stay in the same jobs throughout their careers anymore, and the manufacturing base that was the core of the union movement is being chopped up and exported overseas.

    I thought the fast-food worker strikes were a ray of hope, but it didn’t seem to go very far. The workforce is more transient, isolated and temporary than ever before, which plays right into the fat cats’ paws, of course.

  11. 11
    BR says:

    Josh Marshall is one of the more insightful journalists out there…I’m glad he’s laying it out like this.

    I do think he (less than others) is still missing the forest for the trees. The reason that there’s no policy the Democratic party has identified to deal with declining or stagnating prosperity is because we’re at the point where further growth in prosperity isn’t possible any more. Fundamentally, material prosperity has a physical and ecological basis, and the money economy of goods and services is an overlay on top of that, and the financial system is an overlay on top of that overlay. When the physical basis can’t expand as quickly as in the past — we’re stuck drilling for oil or digging for coal or mining for minerals using costly techniques that were never employed in the past to get lower quality resources — and the “externalities” start to bite us — environmental degradation on so many levels — it’s not possible for the real economy to grow and for folks to feel more wealthy. We’re reaching very real limits to growth globally, and probably are going to reach peak industrial output in the U.S. by the end of the decade.

    Most of the “wealth” created for the 1% is financialized wealth — almost purely virtual, and as the physical economy declines in the future that financial wealth won’t be worth a hill of beans. (For most of them, anyway — I’m sure a few bankers will figure out yet another clever scheme to profit.)

  12. 12
    gene108 says:

    I do not think it as simple as more unions.

    The 1950’s and 1960’s were unique and probably (and hopefully) will not be seen again globally, because much of the economic security was based on the lack of development in emerging colonial nations and destruction of WW2.

    I’ve read, at the end of WW2, the USA had 80% of the world’s manufacturing capacity. There literally was no one to compete with us. The only countries and companies capable of matching what we did, we bombed into rubble.

    For the U.S. these were great times. Companies were secure, because they had no international competition and making money was easy to come by.

    The late 1990’s was another time, when companies were booming, making a profit seemed easy and real wages actually rose.

    Plus, with regards to the 1950’s and 1960’s, I think, the scars of the Great Depression and the late 19th century and early 20th century labor riots and near collapse of our economy (and the belief, with the rise of Communism, that the Great Depression may have been a collapse of capitalism itself) made businesses a bit more honest in making sure their workers got paid well enough to live.

    When American businesses started facing competition from a rebuilt Europe and Japan, management was slow to adapt to better practices. Unions got a disproportionate share of the blame for the inability of U.S. companies to adapt, but the broader issue was increased competition from competitors, who were doing the same thing you did but better and at a lower cost.

    Add to this the Reagan Administration green lighting levels of M&A activity Wall Street did not believe would be allowed and you have the hollowing out of the middle class.

    I am not saying unions would be a bad thing, per se, but I think the economic dynamics of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when union membership was at its peak, are vastly different than today.

    If you really want to have a renewed labor movement you need to incorporate white collar jobs and service sector jobs. There are plenty of engineers, for example, who might benefit from a union with regards to job security, but have not been the traditional targets of unions.

  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Buddy H:
    I reckon Glenn Beck’s a bullshitter. That is, it doesn’t matter to him if he’s telling the truth or not. He might have no more than the tweaks and twinges that all 50-something people get, served up with drama sauce to gin up sympathy from the marks his audience.

    Speaking of Glenn Beck, it’s been a while since we heard anything about his 1791 jeans venture. Have you ever seen anyone wearing them?

  14. 14
    BR says:

    @gene108:

    And to add to your list, the U.S. post war was the dominant energy producer on the planet, with nearly endless supplies of oil and coal and other raw materials, more than enough to satisfy both domestic consumption and to export to the highest bidder. The inflection point for the U.S. economically when these post-war good times came to an end — the 1970s — coincided with the end of that resource dominance.

  15. 15
    raven says:

    @greennotGreen: They did that shit here, fired people on a minute notice, had an armed guard walk them to their cube and get their shit. Then they sent an email telling everyone to respect the people who got axed. Almost all of them were rehired.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    Although I agree with the post, minimum wage should have been tied to inflation. Instead it’s tied to political whims.

    Linda Greenhouse has a depressing article on the future of the ACA, so link to it at your own risk. She ends with this sentence.. This past week, I found myself struggling against the impulse to say two words: I surrender. link

    @Amir Khalid: I just can’t link to him.

  17. 17
    Bobby B. says:

    “Unions? I hate unions! But I’m all for ’em, and don’t forget I said that!”
    “Speed kills, Del.”

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    @Cervantes:

    Yes, it’s true that organized crime used the unions to gain further access to power and money (in otherwise legitimate enterprises).

    The ridiculous thing about it is that there’s nothing union specific about it. Yes, of course organized crime worked hard to capture unions where these unions could be useful. They did the same thing with businesses, city governments, churches, and pretty much every other institution you can think of. The whole point of organized crime is that you lay down roots and implant yourself solidly in as many parts of “legitimate” society as you can – syndicates that don’t do that don’t last long.

    The fact that there are shell companies that are fronts for the mob isn’t taken as a point against capitalism. The fact that there are politicians who’re in bed with the mob isn’t taken as a point against government. The fact that there are churches that are in bed with the mob isn’t taken as a point against organized religion. But when it’s unions, somehow, it proves something about the very concept of organized labor, because reasons.

  19. 19
    terraformer says:

    Indeed – we’ve been down this road before. History is clear.

    Thing is, people are dumb, or at least willfully ignorant. They’d rather feed their lizard brain, letting fear and finger-pointing take control instead of learn. You’ve got to hand it to the wingers – they know how to scare people and how to feed that lizard brain.

    And they’re doing their darnedest to clear out the schools of facts to make sure kids don’t learn about the Pinkertons and the truth about how unions made this country, as well as host of other facts.

  20. 20
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    To me, unions are the only way to address the power imbalance between employers and employees. Theoretically, the government could do it, but in practice, it won’t.

  21. 21
    Tommy says:

    @Cervantes: My mom’s dad took a job after WWII, entry level, at Snap-on. Became a manager. Sent the first kids in his family to college, his three children. Got a ton of stock. Never lived out of his means. Worked at the plant for almost 40 years. He retired almost “the millionaire next door.”

    People need to go out and yell this. My grandfather made what he’d say were the best tools in the world. Made in a small town in Illinois. Now the plant is a hole in the ground, I mean a literal hole, almost two decades later, because Snap-on actually salvaged the concrete for money.

    Let me say this again, they tore up the land to mine the concrete. Left a hole in the ground and walked away.

    I almost want to walk away and find the Google Streetview images, I am not making this up, but when I am home with my parents we drive out of our way not to get near the place. My mother’s dad worked there as did her brother and three cousins.

  22. 22
    David in NY says:

    The real question is why Marshall doesn’t even mention unions, except to say they’ve declined. There are measures that could revive them, that are, one must agree, non-starters at the moment. But I think that Democrats as a matter of principle ought to favor them.

    There was a weird moment in a recent Supreme Court argument in which Amazon(?)’s subcontractor was arguing it did not have to pay employees for the time, up to a half hour, they spent being searched on the way out of the warehouse. John Roberts, of all people, asked, “Shouldn’t this just be a matter for collective bargaining?” The workers’ lawyer finally got around to saying they didn’t have a union, but didn’t say the truth, that the obstacles in place to organizing were likely to keep them from having one. What seemed odd was Roberts’s apparent assumption that collective bargaining, not federal law, was the basic worker protection, which would either be incredible naivete or incredible machiavellianism — making the default protection the one that has become the weakest under current conditions.

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I thought dope, drones, and domestic surveillance were the things keeping the voters at home, the things that need to be addressed to salvage 2016… all before Rand Paul scoops the youth vote and romps home.

    Perhaps I’m on the internet too much…

  24. 24
    Cervantes says:

    @Chris: Could not agree more.

  25. 25
    Tripod says:

    No solidarity.

    At some point, the bosses figured out enough hard workin’ white guys hate women and minorities more then they hate their bosses.

  26. 26
    Mike Jones says:

    At this point, I’m starting to wonder if the timing is right to have lead exposure in youth explain the likes of Inhofe, Gohmert, and their ilk. Maybe it’s not just violent crime that it explains….

  27. 27
    chopper says:

    @BR:

    this.

    i think the limits we’re bumping into right now are less limits to growth as much as limits to easy growth. as you point out, the energy and resources our economies depend on are getting more expensive and dirtier, and not only are we recognizing that we have to pay to mitigate their environmental effects, we also have to pay to mitigate the environmental effects of the stuff the earlier generations either ignored or put off onto us.

    a whole bunch of stuff is piling up right now. but so many people, at least in america, were raised in the earlier paradigm (for want of a better term) and likely don’t see that fact. and they’re probably going to respond by getting pissed and making childish demands.

  28. 28
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    The employers are a part of the reason that people are so transient. Consultants/MBAs tell a business that the biggest cost to run a business is employees and controlling/cutting that cost will make them rich and you end up with that suck job. Your job then sucks and there is no small ray of light that it might change then you have to. It doesn’t work of course because almost all the medium to big businesses get that same crap advice.

  29. 29
    Cervantes says:

    @David in NY:

    What seemed odd was Roberts’s apparent assumption that collective bargaining, not federal law, was the basic worker protection

    Roberts and the real world of blood, sweat, and tears are not the closest of associates. His father worked for Bethlehem Steel, but on the management side. He himself went off to Harvard as a teenager and, upon leaving Cambridge after law school, has worked only in the law, and even then only with his conservative credentials on his sleeve. Unsurprisingly, these days his view of other people’s lives is limited to the truth that his clerks tell him, and that isn’t much to go on.

  30. 30
    negative 1 says:

    This is the single best post I’ve read here in years. The irony is that though we fund a lot of campaigning for the democratic party we are never mentioned, our issues never brought up in campaigns. Union politics extend beyond just the day to day worker protection issues, we advocate against outsourcing, for government services, for policies that benefit the employers that hire our folks (public and private).
    What I have noticed, and what would be a good wedge to use, is that we advocate for the employers in the old sense of the word — the company as entity — whereas today the policies are to benefit the CEOs in an implied sense of “the boss is the company”. Would the employer be stronger if their salary was only $500K per year as opposed to $2 mil plus ridiculous stock incentives? Unions argue yes, and that it would make it possible to manufacture in this company as opposed to saying “we’re broke after buying the boss his gold-plated Bentley, we have to ship your jobs to Bangladesh!”

  31. 31
    BR says:

    @chopper:

    The big difficulty is that the only real answer to hitting limits to (easy) growth is to simplify — to downscale the complexity of society, to cut layers of middlemen out of the economy, to shrink bureaucracy (yes in government, but that’s already been a focus — I’m thinking of all the pseudo-official bureaucracy that we all deal with in the FIRE sector, hospitals, universities, etc.). A lot of that means cutting corporate subsidies and massively simplifying (and perhaps to an extent relocalizing) the economy. It also means rolling back a lot of privatization that has happened (charter schools are a good example — lots of middlemen and no real benefit). But now that everyone in power is used to the current arrangement, and those at the top of these industries are going to lobby hard to keep it that way, the policies that we need are also those that we can’t enact.

  32. 32
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    The first thing I ask any self-proclaimed liberal is how they feel about unions.

    That tends to separate the wheat from the chaff very quickly. If you’re not vehemently in favor I won’t even waste my time talking to you. Frankly don’t even give a shit about how you feel about anything else.

  33. 33
    Belafon says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Strong unions would reduce the need for government oversight of companies.

  34. 34
    BR says:

    @chopper:

    I should add, this re-simplification of the economy that we need is perfectly aligned with what Tim and others are saying — as we dismantle the corporate detritus that has built up over the last few decades, we need to foster the rebirth of localized, worker-owned manufacturing. The two go hand in hand.

  35. 35
    kd bart says:

    “That’s exactly what the company wants – to keep you on their line. They’ll do anything to keep you on their line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the black against the white – EVERYBODY to keep us in our place”-From the film Blue Collar

  36. 36
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    What seemed odd was Roberts’s apparent assumption that collective bargaining, not federal law, was the basic worker protection, which would either be incredible naivete or incredible machiavellianism

    @David in NY: Roberts is not stupid. He knows goddamn well there’s no union. His “solution” is completely disingenuous – “oh, no union? OK, well, we’re done here.”

  37. 37
    chopper says:

    @BR:

    The big difficulty is that the only real answer to hitting limits to (easy) growth is to simplify — to downscale the complexity of society, to cut layers of middlemen out of the economy, to shrink bureaucracy (yes in government, but that’s already been a focus

    that helps in the short term. but improving efficiency only helps for a while because you can only do it to a certain point.

    the problem with our system is that our modern capital-C Capitalist economy is dependent on growth. it isn’t designed to operate in a steady-state manner. without constant growth the system starts to slip.

  38. 38
    p.a. says:

    AT&T and Verizon are rightfully targets of BallJuice wrath re: service, internet speed etc. Their workforces are also highly organized. When we talk about increased competition, more flexibility yadda yadda we’re often talking about unorganized companies paying half what the behemoths pay in wages and bennies taking work from unionized workers. All so we can save $10/month. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Disclosure: Vz employee IBEW 2323. And yes I know our management are vampires and the compensation structure is insane, but no one wants to change that more than we do. You don’t think we want to bring FiOS to every frackin residential unit on the planet? And cut out the 16:1 or 32:1 sharing down to 1:1? We don’t want the work of upgrading our routers switches and roadm’s for faster service?

  39. 39
    Cermet says:

    @David Fud: Outstanding annalist of this issue; never thought of this especially relative to the consequences of union investment!

  40. 40
    BR says:

    @chopper:

    Agreed. In the longer term there really is no solution — in the decades ahead we’re going to have to get used to getting poorer. All of us. (At least in currently wealthy nations.) In the short run simplifying and relocalizing the economy, making things more efficient, etc. will help ease the transition.

    The problem is that until this is recognized by lots of folks, everyone will want their piece of the American dream as defined in the 1950s or whenever. That old American dream is no longer possible, but it’s probably not a political winner for a candidate to adopt that point of view.

  41. 41
    Fair Economist says:

    Marshall says there’s nothing to do to improve middle class wages but he’s wrong. Median wage in the US is now only $16.87/hour. The rich have taken so much a $15 minimum wage – fair based on productivity improvements – would raise the wage of even the middle class now.

  42. 42
    Kay says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    To me, unions are the only way to address the power imbalance between employers and employees. Theoretically, the government could do it, but in practice, it won’t.

    Yup. I agree. I think that’s why the basic idea never dies. A non-state actor to negotiate and act on behalf of working people is essential.

    You see it with the minimum wage referendums. Those were labor-backed (and it’s the second round they won, they won them in 2006, too) and you’ll see it with sick leave.

  43. 43
    BR says:

    @p.a.:

    This is sort of off topic, but the sooner AT&T and Verizon and the big telecoms understand SDN (and not the watered down SDN that Cisco and others are peddling, but “SDNv2”), the better off they’ll be, and the more likely we are to get some better Internet service in the U.S.

  44. 44
    hoodie says:

    @BR: Give it a rest. Scarcity narratives have perennially been used to justify inequality and other inhumanity. It took intentionality and a lot of investment to develop that postwar economic system that folks seem to be pining for. It’s passed, but that doesn’t mean the end of the world is nigh. Christ, they just landed a probe on a rock in space. There are ample resources around in other forms (including reuse), but we just keep looking under the streetlight for our lost keys because the light is better there. A country that actually cared about the future would be instead investing to light the darkness, and open opportunities for everyone in the process. Entrenched elites cultivate ignorance and negativity, because humans have a hard time thinking about the future and tend to dwell on the past, especially when they’re already comfortable and can only think about what they might lose.

    What Marshall seems to be saying is that Democrats have a develop a positive narrative and fight for it to overcome that inertia and fear, and that it’s somewhat immaterial as to whether it uniformly follows some template of “Progressivism.” It just has to be coherent and have a chance of working and making people’s lives better. They had a glimmer of that with Obama’s election and its symbolic relationship to the idea of incorporating a new wave of Americans and unlocking their potential (including removing the burdens imposed by too many people in prison and too much black market labor), but failed to get across how that might be done and how it would be better for everyone in the long run.

  45. 45
    C.V. Danes says:

    I don’t know, maybe the answer seems complicated to other people, but as a native Pittsburgher the answer seems pretty clear to me. Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

    The answer is obvious, but contrary to the neo-liberal prion disease that has been eating at the Democratic brain for the last 20 years or so.

  46. 46
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Tommy: I hear ya. There are trees (!!!) growing in the parking lot of the old GM plant where four generations of my family (from my great-granddad to me) worked. I want to cry when I go back to see family and pass the old factory…

  47. 47
    Belafon says:

    @p.a.: Fun fact about AT&T: The techs that come out to your house to install service/make repairs make minimum wage.

  48. 48
    Kay says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    You see it with the UAW in Tennessee.

    The state actors were an active impediment to a deal between those two parties, The political actors ran campaigns, they made shit up, they wanted to stop that discussion. They were fucking terrified that the car company and some iteration of “organized labor” might get a deal. I don’t know what it’s going to look like at the end, but, boy, “our” representatives tried to shut it down. It must have created panic among their donors.

    If that doesn’t convince people they need a non-state mechanism or leverage to get around their politicians I don’t know what would.

  49. 49
    BR says:

    @hoodie:

    I’m not saying scarcity justifies inequality — inequality came about for other reasons. Inequality is inequality. Scarcity is scarcity. In the future we can choose to cut up the pie equally or unequally — same as today. But what I’m saying is that for fundamental reasons the pie will be shrinking. That’s not to say we can’t have good lives during such times — actually if we are able to decrease inequality then most folks will have it easier in the short run than they do now despite a shrinking pie.

    This is one of those things that shows how narrow public economic discourse has gotten — most folks just can’t accept that there are limits to growth because growth is the only thing we know. I think this dialog is a nice exposition of that:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the.....physicist/

  50. 50
    Xboxershorts says:

    I would recommend one subtle but critical change to your comments at the end:

    From this

    When it comes to keeping drones loyal the constant fear of sickness and bankruptcy works better and costs less than an employee gym or paid family leave.

    To this
    The constant fear of sickness and bankruptcy works better and costs THE COMPANY less than an employee gym of paid family leave. But always winds up costing society much more.

  51. 51
    C.V. Danes says:

    @gene108:

    If you really want to have a renewed labor movement you need to incorporate white collar jobs and service sector jobs. There are plenty of engineers, for example, who might benefit from a union with regards to job security, but have not been the traditional targets of unions.

    Totally agree, but white collar workers also tend to be on the more libertarian side, so that will be a tough nut to crack.

  52. 52
    Gordon says:

    @Cervantes: Bumper sticker: Unions – The Folks Who Brought You The Middle Class

  53. 53
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @BR:

    The reason that there’s no policy the Democratic party has identified to deal with declining or stagnating prosperity is because we’re at the point where further growth in prosperity isn’t possible any more.

    Well, the 0.01% have been experiencing great gains in prosperity, which I’d say refutes your thesis.

    What we need unions for is to make sure they share those great gains with the rest of us.

    @gene108:

    If you really want to have a renewed labor movement you need to incorporate white collar jobs and service sector jobs. There are plenty of engineers, for example, who might benefit from a union with regards to job security, but have not been the traditional targets of unions.

    Absofuckinglutely. The problem is that the laws governing such things were written several decades ago, when the relatively small white-collar work force didn’t really need unions, since it was necessary to pay them a premium over what the unionized blue collar workers got. So the laws were written so that managers and professionals didn’t get to organize.

    That needs to be changed. My principle is, everyone should be able to organize in order to ‘punch up’ in terms of economic power relationships.

    For instance, fast food franchise owners should be able to band together to collectively deal with the management at McDonalds and Burger King and Taco Bell.

    Hell, the original bit of organizing to ‘punch up’ in our Western tradition consisted of a bunch of English noblemen bringing King John to heel at Runnymede in 1215, and the result was the Magna Carta.

  54. 54
    patrick II says:

    @David Fud:

    There were a many workers, some unionized some not, who had their money invested in their own company. It didn’t necessarily give them access to power. The company merely looked at it as a way to slow pay their employees. And then people like Mitt Romney came along, joined ownership to work around the law by paying themselves huge consulting salaries driving companies into bankruptcy and leaving the companies without enough asset value to pay what they owed to the pensioners.
    Investing in your own company sounds like a good idea, but it doesn’t always work in the context of sociopaths.

  55. 55
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

    Unions and environmentalists are often strongly at odds, of course, and that’s my understanding of at least part of the politics of Keystone and the long-running debate over the nature of the “Democratic base,” especially in places where Democrats aren’t doing very well among the white working class.

  56. 56
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I thought the fast-food worker strikes were a ray of hope, but it didn’t seem to go very far.

    I think they were successful. They’re a big part of why we’re talking about wages instead of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    Labor-backed initiatives won in 2014. The minimum wage referendums. They did a hell of a lot better than Democrats did. I think they’ll get sick leave by referendum too, or try to.

  57. 57
    p.a. says:

    @Belafon: ? No ATT residential service in my area. I know ATT Wireless is unionized, don’t know which work groups are/aren’t. It may be the only one that is; VzW isn’t, and its not for lack of trying.

    But my main point is, if you really want to foster unionization as a progressive means of bettering society, it will cost you money. Good pay, good benefits come with a cost. I know speaking ‘macro’ that more $$ in the economy betters all, but I go back to Atrios and Josh Marshall during NY, NJ, and Philly mass transit strikes pointing out how pissed so many people were about workers with decent benefits wanting more. And these are very progressive parts of the country.

  58. 58
    Belafon says:

    @patrick II: You missed one piece of David’s statement: Unions also have representatives on boards and are part of the decision making process at the companies whose employees they represent.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    This is true and we should address it more honestly. The energy piece is complicated, particularly for upper midwest Democrats like Sherrod Brown and Al Franken (more Brown,, but still).

    Sherrod Brown has labor, and he also has agriculture, manufacturing (huge energy use) and a lot of poor people who live in places that get very cold.

    I read that Peters in Michigan ran (partly) on environmental issues, so that might be somewhere to look, see how he handled it.

  60. 60
    patrick II says:

    @Tripod:
    This.

    My brother is a union worker and is amazed at how his fellow union members vote republican. Usually because some black guy might get welfare or health care. Why shouldn’t those slackers go out and get a good union job?
    One of the things that broke up unions was the civil rights act and black people coming to work in their unions at all, and then sometimes getting promoted over someone who was “more qualified” or had more seniority. I have heard it expressed as “rich guys get to pass their money on to their sons, why can’t I pass my union job to my son?”

    The right wing works hard to keep racial hatred going. It is a profitable thing to do.

  61. 61
    C.V. Danes says:

    @BR:

    Agreed. In the longer term there really is no solution — in the decades ahead we’re going to have to get used to getting poorer. All of us.

    No, not all of us. 99.9% of us perhaps, but not all.

  62. 62
    BR says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Well, the 0.01% have been experiencing great gains in prosperity, which I’d say refutes your thesis.

    I address that a few sentences later… 1) most of that prosperity is virtual, 2) we’re not yet at negative real growth yet, but we’re close to it (probably less than a decade away), so things are slowing down.

    Also, as I replied a couple of comments ago, inequality is inequality and scarcity is scarcity. If the uber-wealthy take a larger piece of a pie, that says nothing about the size of the pie itself. What we need to do is *both* deal with present inequality and soon-to-be scarcity. Most folks only want to think about one of the two. (And no, I’m not saying that we’ll be hit by scarcity overnight. This is probably the beginning of a very long term process that will play out over decades or longer.)

  63. 63
    Belafon says:

    @p.a.: Royal “you.”

    But as to the point in your second paragraph, it won’t cost as much as you think because there are very few companies where employees are the major cost. Take Wal-Mart for example, because I know this one. Raising wages to the point that employees no longer had to get SNAP would increase prices by 1.4%.

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    @Kay:

    It must have created panic among their donors.

    That’s exactly what I assumed. That even if Volkswagen had no problem with its workers being unionized, most of the big fish in the little pond that is Kentucky jumped out of their skins at the thought that VW might be setting a precedent that their own workers might want to follow. Especially if the fact started getting into people’s heads that VW clearly wasn’t suffering from the fact that its workers were unionized.

  65. 65
    BR says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    I don’t know…maybe for a little while the 0.1% will stay wealthy, but do you really think in a declining economy people will let them get away with it? Seems like history shows that whenever societies end up in that sort of situation, the social compact breaks down and all sorts of ugly things happen.

  66. 66
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    From 2009-10. It’s a real problem for them:

    Sen. Sherrod Brown holds the key to delivering a bloc of Midwestern senators crucial to passing climate change legislation that faces strong bipartisan opposition.
    The Ohio liberal has been working diligently behind the scenes on behalf of manufacturers, seeking concessions from two Democrats who share his views on most other policy matters.

    It was weird how it was ignored in media, “Obama didn’t get climate change legislation done!”

    Obama had some real problems even with liberal Democrats. Brown is an environmentalist, but he is also the Ohio Senator.

  67. 67
    Fair Economist says:

    @BR:

    Agreed. In the longer term there really is no solution — in the decades ahead we’re going to have to get used to getting poorer. All of us. (At least in currently wealthy nations.)

    Since 1970, in constant dollars, productivity has doubled while wages haven’t changed. You could half the size of the economy with no loss of income for the lower and middle classes whatsoever.

    Our current issues are purely distributional. There’s a high likelihood of economic limitations in the near future, but the distributional issues are so severe they don’t have to hurt most people at all, if we’re actually willing to do something about it.

  68. 68
    Mike E says:

    Republicans throw their TEA lemmings’ bodies on the tracks

    Enhance’d for moar accuracy.

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    @Chris:

    That’s why I don’t wholly believe that unions are dead. I know the numbers, but for some reason this scares the shit out of them.

    IF they get this deal it will be a very mild “worker’s org”. Politicians went completely crazy at even the thought of some “workers council”. I thought they were going to throw themselves in front of the plant and block the entrances. If this was such a paper tiger they wouldn’t be freaking out.

  70. 70
    patrick II says:

    Unions cannot ask for high salaries in the context of companies being able to move their production facilities at will. They used to move them to “right-to-work” southern states and then with containerization making shipping cheaper, to foreign countries. Free trade can be good, but competing with workers who will work for $1 a day makes it tough for unions to negotiate. It is mostly service jobs that cannot be moved. You cannot serve a McDonald’s hamburger from Beijing. Although sometimes they taste that way.
    So, it seems to me, any push to increase unionization for jobs not rooted to the locality must include rules about moving, stealing pensions, to make it less profitable for companies to do so.
    An example is Hostess that just last year went “bankrupt”, paying their managment huge golden parachutes, screwed the pension funds, and selling the Hostess brand to a company that moved away from unionized workers and the obligations they had built up. As long as the law allows that, unions will be hard to come by.

  71. 71
    BR says:

    @Fair Economist:

    I agree. Our current issues are about inequality because that’s what’s been the issue for the last several decades. But we’re at the point that fixing that will only go so far because of what lies immediately ahead; economic policies at this point that only deal with inequality will seem to be ineffective (in the eyes of the public) because they won’t gain much traction, or gain traction for long, as scarcity starts taking a toll. This is one of those moments where if we want a chance at a better economy we need to start thinking about tackling both issues together.

  72. 72
    cmorenc says:

    @David Fud:

    The unions in Europe, on the other hand, invest their pension money into the business and have a seat in the board room so that they can drive the discussion. They are a shareholder, not a stakeholder. They share in the fate and fortune of the company

    +1 – this is EXACTLY where the union movement in the US took the wrong fork in the road. In their struggle to establish bargaining power and benefits for workers the union’s perspective understandably became focused on their adversarial relationship with management – but this blinded them to the need to also become commonly invested with as owners of rather than merely contract workers with the company, so that increases in pay or benefits flowed more directly from their stake in the company’s success, rather than just something to be prized away from an adversary.

  73. 73
    Jose Padilla says:

    The biggest obstacle to increasing wages has been the Federal Reserve. For the last thirty five years, the pattern has been a sharp recession followed by a slow jobs recovery. You get at least 4-5 years of economic growth before wages start increasing. At that point the Fed declares “wage inflation” and you get an interest rate crackdown and the economy slows. Under this pattern, you never get wage growth even though you have economic growth. The exception was the late 90s when, for whatever reason, Greenspan held off on raising interest rates for three years and you got some real wage growth.

  74. 74
    patrick II says:

    This post must be understood in the context of the utter ruthlessness of the corporate owners efforts to destroying unions. They are right now trying to destroy the post office and teachers unions so those services can be further privatized and de-unionized. They encourage racism largely so that workers will not be united. They ship entire industries overseas to avoid paying labor costs at home, wrecking entire parts of the economy. The were willing to let GM and Chrysler and probably Ford go broke to kill the autoworkers union.
    If you want to do something other than write about it in a blog, you had better buckle up.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    @Chris:

    It is more complicated than that. I think VW is in a wonderful position. Anything they offer at this point will be considered noble, thanks to the insane response of US politicians to the three letters “U A W”.

    They’re the big winners, VW. Everyone is courting them.

    I mean, Jesus Christ. It’s not enough that they do nothing helpful, they also have to stand in the way of anyone else doing anything? They have to diminish labor’s bargaining position?

  76. 76
    Loviatar says:

    The answer is obvious, but contrary to the neo-liberal prion disease that has been eating at the Democratic brain for the last 20 years or so.

    It seems contra, but we need a smaller tent. No Senators Lieberman, Landrieu. Manchin or Booker, etc.

    John Cole and his ilk created a situation where they gave a crazy man access to power. They then walked away and left that crazy man in control.

    ———

    Questions for the Obots:

    – Wouldn’t we have been better off with the conservative Democrats and Moderate Republicans moderating the Republican party instead of creating a Republican lite party that does the country no good?

  77. 77

    Absolutely right. The most fundamental problem facing the US economy is that wages are falling compared to productivity. And the core of the problems are ones that Republicans can’t politically address- employers are keeping too much for themselves and healthcare costs too much: how American productivity is split up. Liberal policies like progressive taxation, the minimum wage, strengthening collective bargaining rights, etc., are the only way to do it, but the Democrats aren’t pushing those things. That is a huge mistake.

  78. 78
    Belafon says:

    @Loviatar:

    Questions for the Obots

    What’s your question? I can’t see anything after “Obots”.

  79. 79
    C.V. Danes says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Well, the 0.01% have been experiencing great gains in prosperity, which I’d say refutes your thesis.

    Piketty 101: an economy where the 0.01% are experiencing most of the gains is actually indicative of an economy with slow or no growth. A slow-growth economy means a low-interest economy, which means that capital loses its value relative to labor at a much slower pace, allowing the gains from capital to grow and nurture itself exponentially while the gains for labor stop or even become negative in relative terms.

    The high-growth economy was merely an historical aberration due to the immense capital destruction of two world wars and America’s unique position in the global marketplace and was, quite frankly, unsustainable. A 3% growth rate means a doubling of the economy every generation, which is unsustainable over the long run. What we are experiencing now is merely a return to low, sustainable growth over the long term.

    Growth is not going to get us out of this mess. Increasing the power of labor to demand its fair share of the economic pie from capital is the only long-term solution. This is why collective bargaining/unions/whatever-you-want-to-call-them are important, and why capital is doing everything in its power to defeat them.

  80. 80
    Loviatar says:

    @Belafon:

    What’s your question? I can’t see anything after “Obots”.

    Yeah, pretty much your response for the past 6 yrs.

  81. 81
    cmorenc says:

    @patrick II:

    An example is Hostess that just last year went “bankrupt”, paying their managment huge golden parachutes, screwed the pension funds

    THIS is the part I can’t figure out – how this asymmetry should be able to legally fly past a bankruptcy court. If the company is too insolvent to maintain its pension fund obligations, then it’s too insolvent to maintain its bonus structure to management as well. Or at least that’s how it ought to be.

    Unfortunately, sometimes (as with e.g. Romney and Bain Capital) the financial folks have already looted the building and long sailed away with it before the company collapses from insolvency. But even so, with respect to management still aboard the ship at the point of insolvency – how do they deserve bonuses while workers somehow do not deserve accrued pension obligations?

  82. 82
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar: Good plan, a permanent minority party representing a quarter of the country, even less in most states. I see no downside.

  83. 83
    Kay says:

    @patrick II:

    The worst are the “progressive” anti-labor people, because they’re doing a horrible thing. They’re setting poor people against working class and middle class people. The greedy union members are soaking up all the wages and gains that should go to poor people.

    Republicans set middle class people against poor people, and “progressive” anti-labor people set poor people against working and middle class people. It’s a disgusting tactic. They use it with teachers unions all the time. It seems so blatant to me that I’m surprised more liberals don’t object to it.

  84. 84
    Belafon says:

    @Loviatar: You could try asking questions without attempted insults.

  85. 85
    p.a. says:

    @Belafon: Royal ‘you’: understood. I meant that I’ve had no personal contact w/ATT employees for years, so I don’t know what the wage/organized/unorganized situation is. I just know in he real the ATT workforce is organized.

    And English really does need to change/change back to a differentiation between 2nd person singular and plural. ‘One’ used as a pronoun seems clunky to me.

  86. 86
    Cervantes says:

    @Tommy:

    Mount Carmel, by any chance?

  87. 87
    Cervantes says:

    @p.a.:

    Well, you could use “y’all” …

  88. 88
    patrick II says:

    @Belafon:

    I didn’t miss it, although I should have addressed it. Having union members on the board is an important key, and not just in an advisory capacity as sometimes happens here, but with full ownership rights. The problem is that, within unions that is a catch 22, they cannot insist on that until they have enough power to do so, and now they have no power. So, if that happens, it most come from rules created by the government, and since unions are split now politically, race splits them most importantly, but southern cultural traditions, abortion rights, gay rights, etc. they cannot promise votes, the politics to get rules like that made are, to put it mildly, incredibly difficult.
    The history of racism, and the southern culture that supports it and is being spread by FOX and Limbaugh and Hannity, and the elites cynical use of it, continues to curse the working people of this country.

    I know I sound too negative, and the ideas here are good and I would love to see them happen. But we need to understand the ruthlessness of the people we are up against. They are willing to see about 45,000 people a year die from a lack of health care in order to keep them under thumb. They have huge and ever increasing amounts of money and power. It will not be easy to overcome that.

  89. 89
    Cervantes says:

    @Belafon: That might be inefficient.

  90. 90
    daddyj says:

    We definitely need stronger unions as a counterweight to corporate power, but it is tough battle to convince non-union folks of that. In my area, say the word “union” in a group of white-collar folks and you are almost certain to hear one of them talk about working a trade show at McCormick Place and having to pay labor costs for three union electricians to get an extension cord for their slide projector. That kind of screwing tends to stick in people’s craws for ever. Oddly, if you raise examples of corporate featherbedding, they are shrugged off as par for the course.

  91. 91
    Loviatar says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Good plan, a permanent minority party representing a quarter of the country, even less in most states. I see no downside.

    Tell me what is the downside:

    The Republicans:
    – currently control the House
    – will expand their control of the House next year
    – will gain control of the Senate next year
    – control the Supreme Court
    – control the majority of the state legislatures
    – have blocking power in 3/4 of the state legislatures
    – have had their major legislative policies enacted by the opposing president

    again, tell me, what is the downside?

  92. 92
    Belafon says:

    @patrick II: As far as I understand, the rules in countries like Germany require the companies allow unions, require unions to invest in the companies, and require that decision making is done by both company executives and union representatives.

    I don’t believe you can ever have a system where the government is not involved, because, as we see here, not being “involved” is a choice of involvement. But explicitly requiring that the employees are represented by a union would reduce the need for government having to monitor company decisions by a lot.

  93. 93
    Kay says:

    @patrick II:

    The “race” piece of setting people against public employee unions never made sense to me. The charge is that public employee unions (teachers, usually!) are holding back progress for racial minorities, because they suck so bad at their jobs.

    I don’t know about other states, but public employee unions in Ohio urban areas have a lot of AA members. I think it’s understood historically that AA people went into public work because it was the only place they could be promoted, had protections against racial bias. It is baffling to me that anti-labor people among both Republicans and Democrats have managed to rewrite this. Public employee unions in this state are very diverse. They’re a big part of the AA middle class in urban areas, and there’s a reason for that! No one would hire or promote them in the private sector, for a huge chunk of our history

  94. 94
    Loviatar says:

    @Belafon:

    You could try asking questions without attempted insults.

    Why, while you personally may be worthy of respect, as a group the Obots are only slightly higher in my estimation than the above mentioned Senators.

    The naive after 30+yrs are just as complicit as the willful.

  95. 95
    dmbeaster says:

    Little tidbit about unions and democracy. During the reconstruction of post WWII Japan, even that extreme right-winger Douglas MacArthur understood they were essential to a functional democracy, and made sure they were part of the new institutional framework. Would never happen now.

  96. 96
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar: I’m not sure you’re clear on what the point of politics is. Your “plan” is to reduce the Democratic Party to some kind of core of true believers–based on presuming that there _is_ such a core–and then lose every election forever, because somehow that leads to… something unspecified. Why don’t you just hit yourself with a chunk of concrete? That’s about as likely to fix America, and it has more upside for me.

  97. 97
    BobS says:

    Very interesting post/comment section, particularly #7, #12, #18, & the dialogue between BR & chopper. Some of you might be interested in the Democracy at Work project of Richard Wolff (as well as his weekly broadcast Economic Update where he regularly addresses many of the issues being discussed here).

  98. 98
    Tyler Forrest says:

    Unions didn’t create the middle class, high tax rates did. Unions existed for a long time before the rise of America’s great middle class. What didn’t exist was punitively high tax rates on excess wealth.

    The wealthy hate doing two things:
    1) paying taxes
    2) paying employees

    The only time they wil pay employees more is if the only other alternative for the money is paying taxes. Unions are not relevant in this equation.

    Unions were essential for establishing decent and safe working conditions, but they didn’t win very many wage concessions until the high tax era.

    High taxes = higher wages.

    Low taxes = low wages.

  99. 99
    patrick II says:

    @Belafon:
    Agreed, but hell Belafon, we tried to get a change to union voting rules in congress to allow mail in ballots that corporations would find more difficult to intimidate and we couldn’t even get that done with democratic majorities in both Senate and Congress. Even minimal changes face a wall of money and power and ruthlessness. I agree with everyone here on what should be done, but I am an old guy and belonged to the steelworkers when I was young. I have watched over time how people have been propagandized, pauperized, and beat down, I have watched the possibly the worst presidential administration in this country’s history drive the country nearly into the ground and six years later working people are voting for their party in huge numbers, particularly white working class –exactly the guys we need to get on our side to change things, and I just things will have to get worse before they get better.
    Sorry, I never thought I would be such a cynical old man. But there you are. Good luck to the younger ones.

  100. 100
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tyler Forrest: Oooh, interesting, and I think I’ve heard that before…

  101. 101
    TriassicSands says:

    I don’t think that stagnant wages are the whole picture. Coupled to that is growing economic insecurity. People don’t simply face an unchanging standard of living, more and more are facing economic ruin or at least the prospect of economic ruin.

  102. 102
    Loviatar says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Your “plan” is to reduce the Democratic Party to some kind of core of true believers–based on presuming that there _is_ such a core–and then lose every election forever, because somehow that leads to… something unspecified. Why don’t you just hit yourself with a chunk of concrete? That’s about as likely to fix America, and it has more upside for me.

    See, this is what I mean by the naive being as complicit in the evil as the Republicans. I just pointed out that the Republicans did not lose every election over the past 20 yrs. In fact they’ve won more elections as a small tent party than the big tent Democrats and by doing so they’ve been able to place their personnel in strategic places (Supreme Court, FCC, FEC, etc.) where they have outsized influence regardless of elections. While you keep stroking the chicken of big tent politics, they are actually accomplishing their political goals.

  103. 103
    FromTheBackOfTheRoom says:

    “And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”_ The Empty Suit, 2007
    Enough duplicity in that statement to make an Obot swoon.

  104. 104
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar: Their small tent is significantly bigger than our small tent. You seem to think they’re equal. They’re not. What needs to happen is the making of more liberals. That’s how their side did it: they built an awesome noise machine and spread their sickness more widely than ever before. Their nature is to rampage and inflict suffering on their enemies. Liberals don’t do that, because the whole ethos has to do with doing good. So there aren’t enough liberals yet, and if there were, it wouldn’t lead to ruthless extirpation, because that’s kind of not our thing. I don’t know how you fix this, but taking a dive is a very bad way to start.

  105. 105
    Loviatar says:

    our “plan” is to reduce the Democratic Party to some kind of core of true believers–based on presuming that there _is_ such a core–and then lose every election forever, because somehow that leads to… something unspecified.

    Let me expand on why this is so naive, stupid and assine.

    While the Obots were stoking themselves on electing a black president and passing a Republican healthcare plan, the Republican party went out and won every damm competitive 2010 state legislature. The did it with their “core of true believers” and by doing so they’ve now been able to deny services, roll back benefits, restrict rights, etc. Go ahead name any fucking thing you fuckwads have been complaining about for the past 4 years and I bet you that it can be traced back to their small tent “core of true believers” winning elections.

  106. 106
    mai naem mobile says:

    I saw a tweet the other day from that well known commie pinko rag The Economist about how we’re going to reach very soon the point where the top 0.1% has the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%last time it happened was in theb30s).I’m wondering how much more the rest of the top 1% has(I’m guessing 4 percent) and then how much of the rest of the top 5 percent has(I’m guessing 3 percent) which would leave 2 percent of the wealth for 95 peecent of the population which is crrraazy.

  107. 107
    Calouste says:

    @Belafon: IIRC, by law in Germany, a union at a large company has a number of seats on the Board of Directors. About 20-25% of the seats.

  108. 108
    p.a. says:

    @Cervantes: in my neck of the woods, it’d be ‘youse’

  109. 109
    Bobby Thomson says:

    [Y]ou cannot make middle class wage growth and wealth inequality the center of your politics unless you have a set of policies which credibly claims some real shot at addressing the problem.

    That seemed to me to say more about Marshall than Democrats.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @mai naem mobile:

    Something to keep in mind every time some paid shill dimwit squeals about how “we can’t pay for [thing].”

  111. 111
    C.V. Danes says:

    @BR:

    I don’t know…maybe for a little while the 0.1% will stay wealthy, but do you really think in a declining economy people will let them get away with it? Seems like history shows that whenever societies end up in that sort of situation, the social compact breaks down and all sorts of ugly things happen.

    We seem to certainly be on that track, but revolution, if it were to occur, is probably generations away. I think what will happen over the next several decades is a continued slowing of growth and concentration of capital (and power) into fewer and fewer hands. The only thing with the power to speed things up is probably global warming, as the mass migration and concentration of people with little reason to trust the government into urban centers in search of work and food/water security will start to boil over into increasingly common rioting that may eventually spread regionally and so on. But even that is probably still a few decades away, so who knows?

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Loviatar: Are you willing to live with the world of pure shit that would be created in the short term while your party of core believers is being built?

    Liberals are fighting on two fronts, defending previous achievements from GOP assaults and trying to rack up new achievements. It complicates things. The GOP just wants to burn shit down.

  113. 113
    d58826 says:

    @Calouste: The ‘by law ‘part sounds right but not sure of the percentage. Even VW management wanted the union to win in Tennessee since they were used to dealing with workers councils in Germany. And union membership certainly hasn’t resulted in the death of the German manufacturing section.

    I was only a union member briefly while working a part time job in college. Given that it was part-time, the union dues might have been more than the actual raise I got when I joined. Whatever the pros and cons of unions, I always have felt that they are an essential part of the overall checks and balances that are part of our political system. Even at their high point union membership was only about 30% of the working population but it provided a powerful check on management overreach and gave all of the non-union workers a useful threat. Management didn’t hand out all those bennies to the non-union white collar employees because they were such good Christians. It was easier to ‘sweeten the pot’ for the white collar workers then having to deal with them in a union and maybe demanding even more during contract negotiations..

  114. 114
    Loviatar says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Their small tent is significantly bigger than our small tent.

    And you know this how? Please educate me.

    My understanding was that the parties were relatively equal, with Republicans in the past maybe having a slightly larger identified base. However, while people may have identified as Republicans they mostly agreed with Democratic positions.

    ———

    That’s how their side did it: they built an awesome noise machine and spread their sickness more widely than ever before. Their nature is to rampage and inflict suffering on their enemies. Liberals don’t do that, because the whole ethos has to do with doing good. So there aren’t enough liberals yet, and if there were, it wouldn’t lead to ruthless extirpation, because that’s kind of not our thing. I don’t know how you fix this, but taking a dive is a very bad way to start.

    As I said naive and stupid and complicit in evil. The goal is to win, to win. Politics in the US has become a zero sum game. Pre-Nixon / Reagan you may have been correct because you could actually negotiate with your political opponent, however today’s Republicans have made it clear, once they win, they are in control, there will be no negotiating.

    ——–

    I’m actually going to compliment John Cole here; John had an analogy a few years ago that stuck with me.

    You’re going out to dinner and you ask your dinner companion what do you want to eat Italian, French, Chinese? They respond with scrap iron, car parts, screws and nuts. How do you respond to that? Because not only is their response nonsensical to the question, they are so angry that you are confused and that you disagree with their answer they are willing to shoot you and everyone else within reach.

    Tell me, how do you negotiate with such a person?

  115. 115
    C.V. Danes says:

    @mai naem mobile: If you can filter Jane Austen through William Gibson, then you probably have an idea as to what we are in store.

  116. 116
    El Cid says:

    I think one consequence of the American right’s entracement with violent suppression of third world reformism and independence in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is that they fell in love with both the authoritarian repression and the astonishingly hierarchical concentrations of wealth they were backing

  117. 117
    Tripod says:

    Perhaps the Democratic party actually represents the collective political will of it’s constituents. And maybe they just don’t give a shit.

  118. 118
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The GOP just wants to burn shit down.

    No, they just want to gain control. They have gained literally unimaginable wealth from the system. Believe me, they have no intention of burning it down.

  119. 119
    gene108 says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Totally agree, but white collar workers also tend to be on the more libertarian side, so that will be a tough nut to crack.

    I view it more as a level of independence people in white collar fields want, with regards to how to do their jobs. These are professionals, with a certain degree of expertise in a field and they get annoyed when “management” gives them “marching orders”, which they do not think is the right direction to take.

    Unions may add another layer of bureaucracy to their work day and therefore would not be desirable.

  120. 120
    Belafon says:

    @C.V. Danes: Diamond Age and Snow Crash come to mind.

  121. 121
    Cacti says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’m not sure you’re clear on what the point of politics is. Your “plan” is to reduce the Democratic Party to some kind of core of true believers–based on presuming that there _is_ such a core–and then lose every election forever, because somehow that leads to… something unspecified. Why don’t you just hit yourself with a chunk of concrete? That’s about as likely to fix America, and it has more upside for me.

    Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich ran true believer Presidential campaigns, and their results speak for themselves.

    Obama ran big tent campaigns and racked up two big wins.

    Far from him being a drag on national Democrats, they haven’t been able to win when he doesn’t top the ballot, and they revert to a small tent centrist campaign model.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    d58826 says:

    @Loviatar: Up to a point, I’m not sure how important, esp. in an off-year election, the relative size of the two small tents really is. It’s whither the folks living in the tent GET OUT AND VOTE. The GOP can have a tent the size of a telephone booth and the democrats one the size of Madison Square Garden but if the folks in the telephone booth vote and the ones from the Garden don’t then you see 2010 and 2014 style elections. Obviously it is better to have the folks in Madison Square Garden as motivated as the folks in the phone booth but that hasn’t been the history over the past few off-year election cycles. The one cycle where the enthusiasm gap was reversed was 2006 and we saw the pleasant results.

  124. 124
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    – Wouldn’t we have been better off with the conservative Democrats and Moderate Republicans moderating the Republican party instead of creating a Republican lite party that does the country no good?

    @Loviatar: Not an “Obot”, but this is exactly what the GOP tried. Here we are. All the “moderate” Republicans expunged from office.

    That the national Democratic Party is doing the country no good I couldn’t agree with more. They really need to look to California. Our Democratic party has dominated the state and taken California from being a state in deep fiscal trouble to one that is running like a watch in less than five years.

  125. 125
    gene108 says:

    @p.a.:

    No ATT residential service in my area. I know ATT Wireless is unionized

    VZ and ATT union membership varies by region. Places that are anti-union, like Texas, would not have unionized VZ workers or ATT workers.

  126. 126
    Cacti says:

    OT, and someone may have mentioned this already, but the Green Energy Loans Program (i.e. Solyndra! ZOMG!), is now $30 million in the black. Interest payments on loans ($810 million) have now surpassed defaults ($780 million).

    No word from the GOP on whether the program is still a “colossal failure” and “disgusting”.

  127. 127
    Belafon says:

    @Cacti: The Democrats have become way too reliant on one person speaking for the party. This was a problem both during Clinton’s term and Obama’s.

    It’s one of the flaws in Democrats expecting our elected officials to lead from the highest offices rather than being part of a group driven by the electorate. (The other flaw being that how does a leader lead if you measure his success by what you want accomplished?)

  128. 128
    Loviatar says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Are you willing to live with the world of pure shit that would be created in the short term while your party of core believers is being built?

    Tell me of this world of pure shit that will be created. More importantly, tell me how it differs from what is out there today. Have you seen Mississippi?

    ———

    The GOP just wants to burn shit down.

    When someones only goal is to destroy, you don’t negotiate with them. That was and is the Obots biggest mistake. My belief is we came very, very close to a second depression because of this factor. If Speaker Bohner would have accepted President Obama’s 2012 Grand Bargain we would be in the midst of a 2nd great depression. The sad thing is, I think he and the current crop of Democrats would agree to something similar today.

  129. 129
    Loviatar says:

    @d58826:

    Up to a point, I’m not sure how important, esp. in an off-year election, the relative size of the two small tents really is. It’s whither the folks living in the tent GET OUT AND VOTE.

    By definition, a “core of true believers” will vote no matter if its an “on” or “off” year election. However, they will only vote if they see their key positions being addressed. Tell me, what key liberal positions were addressed this off election.

  130. 130
    The Other Bob says:

    It isnt just the death of unions that has killed the middle class, but also the offshoring if manufacturing. Liberals have bought into the belief that the death of manufacuring is inevitable and that protectionism is bad, when many countries around the world have more closed markets than ours and a higher standard of living or growing middle class as a result.

  131. 131
    VFX Lurker says:

    @Loviatar:

    we need a smaller tent. No Senators Lieberman, Landrieu. Manchin or Booker, etc.

    We needed non-Republican Senators like Lieberman and Landrieu to pass the ACA. Without them, it would have died in the Senate for lack of a filibuster-proof majority.

    If you want to reduce Democrats to props, icons and relics of a bygone age, a smaller tent works fine. If you want them to pass legislation, no matter how imperfect, you need a majority in Congress.

  132. 132
    Belafon says:

    @Belafon:

    The other flaw being that how does a leader lead if you measure his success by what you want accomplished?

    Let me try that one one more time:

    The other flaw being how does a leader lead if you measure his success only by whether he filled your checklist, rather than taking into account the events and circumstances around the leader?

    OK, still not exactly what I’m wanting to say, but I’m gonna leave it at that.

  133. 133
    Belafon says:

    @Loviatar:

    However, they will only vote if they see their key positions being addressed.

    Which is exactly the problem with Democratic voters. Republican voters vote because their key positions aren’t being addressed.

  134. 134
    Loviatar says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    That the national Democratic Party is doing the country no good I couldn’t agree with more. They really need to look to California. Our Democratic party has dominated the state and taken California from being a state in deep fiscal trouble to one that is running like a watch in less than five years.

    DING, DING, DING, we have a winner. You don’t negotiate with evil.

    The goal is to win, to win.

    ——–

    P.S.

    winning with conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans is negotiating.

  135. 135
    gene108 says:

    @patrick II:

    My brother is a union worker and is amazed at how his fellow union members vote republican. Usually because some black guy might get welfare or health care.

    IGMFY is a powerful philosophy, which is at the core of conservative politics.

  136. 136
    Xboxershorts says:

    @Loviatar:

    While the Obots were stoking themselves on electing a black president and passing a Republican healthcare plan, the Republican party went out and won every damm competitive 2010 state legislature. The did it with their “core of true believers” and by doing so they’ve now been able to deny services, roll back benefits, restrict rights, etc. Go ahead name any fucking thing you fuckwads have been complaining about for the past 4 years and I bet you that it can be traced back to their small tent “core of true believers” winning elections.

    Not me, I blame 40 fucking years of consolidation of ownership and control of the American media landscape by direct actors for and allies of the American Military-Industrial-Congressional complex.

    (snark on) Taken directly from the marching orders published by that erstwhile and true American patriot and corporate Lawyer ne Supreme Court Justice, Lewis Powell. (snark off)

    The message couldn’t get out because there were so few remaining outlets with sufficient bandwidth left that were willing to broadcast it. And in the past 6 years, the MICCs voice has only gotten louder and more obtrusive.

    The American Fascists control the message.

  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Loviatar: You seem to think that things are as bad as they can get. True GOP control would lead to things like a 7-2 right wing Supreme Court, a complete gutting of worker protections at the state and federal levels, and so on. Essentially, a wipe out of all progress from the New Deal on. I don’t care to see that. YMMV.

  138. 138
    Loviatar says:

    @Cacti:

    SIGH

    Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich ran true believer Presidential campaigns, and their results speak for themselves.

    Howard Dean ran a standard Democratic campaign, it just shows how far the overton window has shifted for you to consider this a true believer campaign.

    ———

    Obama ran big tent campaigns and racked up two big wins.

    Obama won because Bush was and is a horrible person / president. He won the second time because the Republican party is a group of horrible people and enough people vote in a presidential election to make this fact relevant

    ———

    Far from him being a drag on national Democrats, they haven’t been able to win when he doesn’t top the ballot, and they revert to a small tent centrist campaign model.

    Obama is a drag on national Democrats because he is black. During a presidential election, enough people vote that this fact becomes less relevant.

  139. 139
    Loviatar says:

    @Xboxershorts:

    Not me, I blame 40 fucking years of consolidation of ownership and control of the American media landscape by direct actors for and allies of the American Military-Industrial-Congressional complex.

    Agree. thats what you can do when you control the levers of power.

  140. 140
    Loviatar says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You seem to think that things are as bad as they can get.

    No, I know they’re going to get much worse. Why, because people like you still think you can negotiate with evil.

  141. 141
    Paul in KY says:

    @d58826: The Republicans are built on the ‘single issue voter’. That’s how they get em to crawl over broken glass to vote.

  142. 142
    Someguy says:

    Unions are a great idea but at some point the notion of open borders is at odds with attempts to improve worker terms and benefits. If you make the supply of workers nearly unlimited, then the demand for those individual workers is lower, and that’s reflected in lower wages. This isn’t true in some specialized professions but in most service industries, HR is happy to outsource jobs from the existing workers, and bring in a crop of underpaid H1 visa holders. The one thing labor law does allow in the way of management retaliation is to fire the entire workforce, then hire new workers who are non-union, or in closed shop states, under a new (and much lower paid) CBA. More immigration + bigger labor pool = lower wages and less job security.

    The executive order amnesty Obama is supposedly preparing for imminent release is therefore at odds with worker welfare. I mean, c’mon – why do you think the Chamber of Commerce (and the Koch brothers) are in favor of amnesty and removing the caps on foreign workers?

  143. 143
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Loviatar: Dude, I am we’ll aware that one can’t actually negotiate with Republicans. I am not advocating doing so (except as a matter of PR, perhaps). I am disagreeing with your suggestion that a smaller, more pure party will be effective.

    Basically, I would rather get half a loaf than get kicked in the nuts. IMO if we follow your plan the GOP would kick us in the nuts repeatedly while your better party was being built.

  144. 144
    Belafon says:

    @Someguy: Once again, something a strong union would solve. You can’t have strong unions unless, like they do in Europe, you require the company to deal with the unions.

  145. 145

    True believer wants to lead a Stalinist purge, which he/she assures us will lead to victory!

  146. 146
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Obama is a drag on national Democrats because he is black. During a presidential election, enough people vote that this fact becomes less relevant.

    @Loviatar: While doing local GOTV for this last election, one in which we got utterly crushed because it’s apparently beneath the dignity of liberals to vote in an off-cycle election, this became disgustingly apparent. I don’t want it to be the case, I am appalled that it is the case, but it is in fact the case. Obama’s race is a factor in all downticket elections, and in an off-cycle year, that’s enough of a margin to make the difference between a narrow victory and a wipeout defeat.

    And I’m not talking about this being a factor for Republicans. It’s a factor for Dems. A lot more than I thought.

  147. 147
    Loviatar says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I am disagreeing with your suggestion that a smaller, more pure party will be effective.

    Do you consider the current Republican party effective? No, let me rephrase that question.

    Do you consider the current Republican party effective in accomplishing their constituents goals? Not the majority of the countries goals, their constituents goals.

    ———-

    Basically, I would rather get half a loaf than get kicked in the nuts. IMO if we follow your plan the GOP would kick us in the nuts repeatedly while your better party was being built.

    We’ve learned the past 6 years that a determined minority can basically act as a protective cup.

  148. 148

    @Loviatar: So according to you, Obama doesn’t deserve any credit for winning the Presidency twice. By your logic Kerry should have won handily.

  149. 149
    Belafon says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: I saw a poll that showed that white Republican’s from outside the South views on blacks matches those of white Democrats in the South. That view, that the majority of problems blacks are having are caused by blacks themselves, has been used some by Republicans recently, and will get used more and more by Republicans. And the thing about Democrats outside the south is that they are almost evenly split between whether the problems are caused by blacks or external forces.

    In other words, there’s a whole lot of whites that are racist.

    edit: correction.

  150. 150
    Loviatar says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Racism is Americas original and eternal sin.

  151. 151
  152. 152
    Cervantes says:

    @Someguy:

    Unions are a great idea but at some point the notion of open borders is at odds with attempts to improve worker terms and benefits.

    Well, sort of. Immigrant workers, even undocumented ones, can be organized — and unionized — with concomitant results.

    It takes work and sacrifice — but it has happened. Do you remember the “Justice for Janitors” campaign in southern California? An SEIU local more than quadrupled its membership among janitors, nearly all of whom were immigrants, and then won a large (union) contract.

    A couple of years later also in southern California, immigrant construction workers mounted a campaign including a five-month strike, which culminated in a (union) contract that doubled wage rates in the area and unionized another two thousand workers.

    These are success stories. There are tales of woe as well, but victory is not impossible.

  153. 153
    Belafon says:

    Senator Warren has been put in a leadership position, created specifically for her:

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gained a leadership position in the Senate Democratic caucus Thursday, giving the prominent progressive senator a key role in shaping the party’s policy priorities.

    Warren’s new role, which was created specifically for her, will be strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, helping to craft the party’s policy positions and priorities. She will also serve as a liaison to progressive groups to ensure they have a voice in leadership meetings and discussions, according to a source familiar with the role.

    h/t Daily Kos

  154. 154
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar:

    My understanding was that the parties were relatively equal, with Republicans in the past maybe having a slightly larger identified base

    The reason the parties are relatively equal is that the Democrats contain a lot of “moderates.” It’s like half the party, maybe more. You need to keep that in mind. There’s a teensy step missing between your “reduce the Democratic Party to 25% of the voting public” and “accept that the only legitimate goal is total victory.”

  155. 155
    d58826 says:

    @Loviatar: AH AH AH let me see. I’m sure there was one somewhere just have to find it.

    Of course you might take a broader view that a key liberal position is the maintenance of a democratic controlled Senate, the start at re-taking the House and regaining control of the state governments to be ready to redraw the congressional boundaries in 2020 and last but not least appointments to all levels of the courts and regulatory agencies. But then I tend to view long term strategy as important as short term tactics.

  156. 156
    gene108 says:

    @Loviatar:

    While the Obots were stoking themselves on electing a black president and passing a Republican healthcare plan, the Republican party went out and won every damm competitive 2010 state legislature. The did it with their “core of true believers” and by doing so they’ve now been able to deny services, roll back benefits, restrict rights, etc.

    1. The PPACA is not a Republican healthcare plan. The hard parts of it, such as cost controls and taxes are not something Republicans wanted to do on a national level and were not suggested when Heritage floated the idea of an individual mandate in 1993. “Romney-care” was crafted by a Democratic state legislature in Massachusetts.

    FFS Switzerland put in a similar national healthcare scheme, with people required to buy private insurance in the mid-1990’s and the Swiss are probably not anything like our Republican party.

    2. You know what changed between 2008 and 2010? Citizens United. Look up Operation Red State. GOP operatives courted rich folks in several states to throw money at down ticket races to take control of state houses. State Legislatures, who may have had to only run one or two TV ads two to three weeks before the election were getting hit with attack ads from third party groups months before the election started.

    UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH has been a real game changer, with regards to Republicans winning elections, especially state and local elections.

    Now point me to the liberal equivalent of the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adilson or Art Pope (at a state level)?

    I do not think it exists.

    3. Republican wins have more to do with other things than just appealing to a “narrow tent” .

  157. 157
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    one in which we got utterly crushed because it’s apparently beneath the dignity of liberals to vote in an off-cycle election

    Did you find it was liberals in particular not voting? Self-identified liberals? Because my guess would be that the Democrat-leaners who don’t vote don’t even know that they’re liberals. They’re just not interested in politics beyond who the President is because it’s too complicated and [ETA] politicians are all a bunch of schmoes anyway.

  158. 158
    Cacti says:

    @Loviatar:

    Howard Dean ran a standard Democratic campaign, it just shows how far the overton window has shifted for you to consider this a true believer campaign.

    Howard Dean ran a campaign to win the netroots.

    And he won the netroots.

  159. 159
    Cervantes says:

    @Tommy: That’s what I thought.

    That Snap-On plant started out as a Forged Steel Products factory in New Jersey, which production then moved to Pennsylvania and later was acquired by Snap-On, who eventually closed it and moved production to that Illinois plant (in Mount Carmel) — which operated for more than fifty years.

    If your mom’s dad “took a job after WWII, entry level, at Snap-on,” the plant was brand-new at the time — and now it’s been gone a decade or more.

    I almost want to walk away and find the Google Streetview images, I am not making this up, but when I am home with my parents we drive out of our way not to get near the place. My mother’s dad worked there as did her brother and three cousins.

    Well, now you — that’s the plural you — can avoid the place on line as well.

  160. 160
    Tommy says:

    I saw a few people here noted bagpipes ….

    They did that parading through the streets:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueRQEpDda4c

    On 15 November 2013 the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots), took part in a homecoming parade in Glasgow. They marched from Holland Street to George Square in the city centre. The Battalion recently returned from a six month tour in Afghanistan.

    The Scottish public were out in force to welcome more than 400 soldiers from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) who have just returned from Afghanistan.

    The unit was deployed to Helmand Province in April this year and worked with the Afghan police to help improve their capability.

  161. 161
    catclub says:

    @negative 1: The report I heard yesterday on how many coal mines have never paid their OSHA fines was depressing. And there is no mechanism to shut them down based on non-payment of fines. Plus, the worst offenders are also the ones with the worst safety records. Surprising, I know.

  162. 162
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar:

    their small tent “core of true believers” winning elections.

    Their core of true believers is enough to win an election, and ours isn’t. There are enough Democrats to win an election if you lump together the liberals and the moderates. Split them up and it’s death. There are nearly enough conservatives to win an election by themselves. How did they do that? It didn’t use to be that way. They did it by peeling off the racists from the Democratic coalition of working stiffs, and talking to them every day in their trucks and mailboxes–and by whipping up fears among newly long-lived oldsters. That’s how they made enough conservatives to win an election with little help from anyone else. The corresponding process of making enough liberals to win an election with little help from anyone else is a decades-long one. I don’t know why decades of losing elections 70-30 is supposed to speed that along. That’s just one of the flaws in the theory you’ve been articulating.

  163. 163
    gene108 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Tell me, what key liberal positions were addressed this off election.

    You presume liberals are the core of the Democratic party. Facts not in evidence.

    Reagan brought the fundies into the Republican Party and over the last 35 years they have taken over in recent years.

    So what’s your plan for having a great Liberal take over of the Democratic Party?

    Mind you this is without such benefits as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. to push your positions into the public consciousness and bash the crap out of your opponents on a 24/7 basis.

  164. 164
    catclub says:

    @Belafon: Without knowing all the details, that is either a promotion or being shunted off to the side. I have no way of knowing which one.

  165. 165
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Josh makes an interesting pitch. But then of course Josh Marshall Josh Marshalls. Interesting that you didn’t pull and quote this paragraph:

    I’m basically a semi-knowledgable outsider to public policy discussions. And I know a bunch of people will come forward to say, wait there are a whole bunch of policies we can and should be following. […] The right approach may be germinating in a think tank somewhere. But which one?

    Jeezus this guy.

  166. 166
    Chris says:

    @The Other Bob:

    There has been plenty of bitching done about The West Wing on liberal blogs, but one of the low points for me was the sock puppet hippie punching episode with Toby screaming about the glories of free trade. Sadly mainstream since the Third Way.

  167. 167
    David Fud says:

    @cmorenc: Exactly, plus zero sum game versus enlarging the pie thinking on the part of the unions. I totally support unions, but they really f***ed up with this psychology and this lack of investment/seat at the boardroom problem. By benefiting from reducing their employer’s earnings, they put themselves at odds with literally every owner instead of being part of the ownership that looks for best practices, labor and otherwise.

    It perverted the nature of the managers as well, incenting them to work their hardest to destroy their workers’ power instead of enhancing it. Powerful workers doesn’t have to mean an impossible to manage workforce that is taking an outsize portion of profits. VW is the first example of that, and they seem to be doing quite nicely.

  168. 168
    p.a. says:

    Part of the Right’s attack on unions is to de-fund the Democratic Party. Dems become beholden to corporate and finance money and produce Dems like Lieberman, Geithner, Rubin, HRC, Schumer. Decent on civil rights, murder on the lower 3 quintiles.

  169. 169
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Did you find it was liberals in particular not voting? Self-identified liberals? Because my guess would be that the Democrat-leaners who don’t vote don’t even know that they’re liberals. They’re just not interested in politics beyond who the President is because it’s too complicated and [ETA] politicians are all a bunch of schmoes anyway.

    @FlipYrWhig: Don’t know but there are a bunch of motherfuckers who it would REALLY be in their best interests to vote these cycles who are not.

    Case in point: Ferguson, St. Louis. Had I been a resident, black or white, I’d have been crawling over broken glass to vote until the corrupt, racist bastards who set up the hellscape of a society they’ve got there were gone.

    Turnout: about 40%
    New voters registered: 128.

    If you’ve got cops murdering your people for kicks in broad daylight and the most you can turn out is 128 new voters, you’re beyond saving or help.

    That’s what’s going on. As to how liberal these particular folks are, I don’t know and don’t ask. But there were a bunch of people there who desperately need to turn out and save their community, and they had better things to do.

    While my district’s issues are not nearly so horrendous (not yet) same deal. A lot of people had a lot riding on the results of this election and couldn’t be bothered. Not to do GOTV, not to phone bank, and in the end, they didn’t vote. And they have the balls to complain about the results. To say that I am not sympathetic would be an understatement.

    Decent on civil rights, murder on the lower 3 quintiles.

    @p.a.: The beauty of this result from the GOP standpoint is that the “civil rights” costs them nothing, gets their guys out to the polls, and is pretty much irrelevant in a society where low-income people are considered worthless, and then go out and prove it by not voting at all.

  170. 170
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cervantes:

    Unions created the middle class. As unions die the middle class will die with them.

    So important and yet so little understood or even debated.

    It appears that the Wagner act and the changes that followed were a failure and what is needed is European-style industry-wide wage levels (US gov’t does this to a small level with ‘prevailing wage’ on contracts but state gov’ts blithely pay poverty wages to their own employees and run out on their pension promises as well).

    Another good move would be mandatory works councils with guaranteed internal democracy since they are mandatory. The works council model in Germany is an illegal company union in the US but companies have found ways around company unions … they just pay off the officers who often have ways to hold onto power. Btw, I’ve noticed Obama’s NLRB started doing what I’ve been calling for for years–changing rules to make private sector union governance (they don’t have jurisdiction over public sector) more democratic.

    It’s kinda too little too late (remember Clinton’s NLRB? damn) but all you bitches saying Obama is anti-labor? Go suck some germy brass theater knobs.

  171. 171
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Loviatar: The current Republicans have been effective at stopping things from being done. Democrats in general and liberal Democrats in particular are interested in actually doing something positive. It makes a difference.

  172. 172
    David Fud says:

    @Mike Jones: I actually truly think that. I think that America will have to wait for the lead poisoned to die before we get off of the fear-hijacking of the amygdala that they seem to be addicted to. I truly think it will calm down just in time for us to watch Florida sink into the ocean.

  173. 173
    D58826 says:

    Somewhat OT but still within the idea of elections have consequences.
    Last week SCOTUS accepted for review the latest challenge to ACA. Most people, including Linda Greenhouse of the NY Times from which the following is a quote, were shocked
    Her initial take was

    So no, this isn’t Bush v. Gore. This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect.

    But after reading an opinion piece by John Yoo (yes the John Yoo of it isn’t torture if the victim is left alive fame)

    Here’s another possible scenario, just a theory: that the four, still steaming over what the right wing regards as the chief justice’s betrayal two years ago, voted to hear King v. Burwell not only for its destructive potential, but precisely to put the heat on John Roberts. I hadn’t really focused on this idea until I read a piece that John Yoo posted on National Review Online the day after the court granted the case. Professor Yoo, formerly of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and now at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote that the new case gave the chief justice “the chance to atone for his error in upholding Obamacare” and that “it will be the mission of his chief justiceship to repair the damage.” John Yoo — yes, the Bush administration lawyer whose “torture memos” attempted to justify that administration’s “enhanced interrogation” policies — is a smart man, a former law clerk to Justice Thomas who remains well connected at the court. His choice of the words “atone” and “mission,” with their religious resonance addressed to the devoutly Catholic chief justice, is.

    I’ve though all along that this was a chance for Roberts to get back in the good graces of the right wing. Roberts knows how he is going to vote on this. There is nothing that will be said in the briefs or oral arguments that hasn’t been said over and over again. If he agrees with the liberal position the last thing he wants is to disappoint his fellow conservatives AGAIN and have the court accept a case that is so blatantly political. While 3 of the conservative 4 are beyond reason on this, he might have convinced Kennedy that this is a bad move legally, politically and for the image of the court. Without Kennedy they do not have the votes to grant cert. and Roberts can duck the issue.

  174. 174

    @Another Holocene Human: Its not the policies, its the politics that is the problem.

    ETA: The policies to reverse the wage stagnation and income inequality are neither mysterious nor are they unknown. Increasing the marginal tax rates and fiscal stimulus for starters.

  175. 175
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @japa21:

    One of the biggest accomplishments of the RW is the demonization of unions. Unions represent greed and all the reasons why other people can’t have good things. They extort businesses and governments and make themselves rich and their members get undeserved pensions.

    It’s a triple play.

    1) resentment of those doing better than them because they’re in a union that fought for their members

    2) resentment of unions because of resentment of seniority rules (“i’ll never get old!”) and non-discrimination rules (“my coworkers are lazy goldbrickers, why can’t the boss pay more to deserving fellows like me?”)

    3) union members are not guaranteed democracy and much transparency within their union. Their rules are stuck in the 19th century and quite authoritarian, shades of the secret fraternities they derived from, and there’s a very big union out there which rarely holds elections for its officers and stewards at all. When the gov’t gets involved, historically they’ve backed the most bossed up bosses and not rank and file. And this is exactly what industry wants. Delegitimized union leadership.

  176. 176
    p.a. says:

    @Belafon: yeah. Even the Repubs. can’t control their own Senatorial gadflies, and they’re 2x as regimented as the Dems. Let’s see how effective it is when a 2 year female Senator tries keeping this crew of psychophants on-message. I lurve EW, but good luck with that.

    On the other hand, at least it’s an attempt.

  177. 177
    Chris says:

    @p.a.:

    This right here.

    I’ve wondered this before – how much of the weakness of the right 50 years ago can be explained simply by the fact that New Deal tax rates took away a ton of their income? And how much of the left’s weakness today can be explained simply by the fact that Reagan era union busting took away one of our biggest pillars of support? As much as demographics and popular will matter, so do simple brutal things like this.

  178. 178
    Cervantes says:

    @p.a.:

    An attempt to change the party, or to change her?

  179. 179
    Belafon says:

    @p.a.:

    On the other hand, at least it’s an attempt.

    Which is better than a lot of people were expecting.

  180. 180
    Loviatar says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The reason the parties are relatively equal is that the Democrats contain a lot of “moderates.” It’s like half the party, maybe more. You need to keep that in mind.

    Facts, not suppositions, not beliefs. Point to the facts where this is shown.

    ———

    There’s a teensy step missing between your “reduce the Democratic Party to 25% of the voting public” and “accept that the only legitimate goal is total victory.”

    On how it can be done, i.e the missing steps:

    – see Republican party circa 2008-current on how a minority can stymie all change.
    – see California circa circa 2010-current on how a non-majority ruling party can force significant change

  181. 181
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @David Fud:

    The only thing that will bring back unions at this point is a wholesale decision of our populace that they have to support each other instead of trying to get ahead of each other. The FUIGM culture undermines collective action and unions will be dead until our culture starts playing as a team instead of as a bunch of individuals.

    Millennials are pretty pro-union but I doubt they’d be excited about unions as they’re structured now. If Millennials are more “narcissistic” (I question this) or at least more individualistic, nothing could be more anathema than the highly authoritarian internal governance of unions with their arcane rules, threats in return for loyalty, excessive power to officers, and so on.

    Plus, the law is set up in heads we win tails you lose fashion. It’s illegal for workers to just walk out IWW style when the employer decides to change the terms of the deal Darth Vader style. But if the union leadership fails to appropriately and swiftly respond to changes it could screw the entire bargaining unit. All power is taken from rank and file and all responsibility dumped on officers who have to negotiate with the employer to get any time off to address such issues and usually lack the training and even temperment to effectively fend off the relentless degradation of working conditions.

    Industry wanted top-down AFL style unions, no wildcat strikes, no uppity front line workers, top leadership they could deal with and “partner” with.

    So American workers are EXTREMELY suspicious of union-company partnership, it means their leadership sold them down the river in return for some perks or promises once again. Look at what happened with GM and UAW and the two-tier wages.

    Clearly the American model is a failure on multiple levels. The antagonistic procedure doesn’t improve production or anything like that, and it also casts the workers in the role of constantly giving up and giving up and giving up for nothing in return. There’s no democracy in the union and workers are disempowered.

    Under the current laws if union leaders and C-suite work together Euro style somebody is getting it good and hard. The US would need to completely reform its labor laws.

  182. 182
    C.V. Danes says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    …one in which we got utterly crushed because it’s apparently beneath the dignity of liberals to vote in an off-cycle election…

    Speaking as a “liberal,” the problem is that the Democratic Party is not a liberal party. It is more liberal than the Republicans, for sure, and most liberals caucus with the Democrats because they really have no choice. But I am not personally a registered Democrat, nor are many liberals. I did vote in the midterms, but many liberals who sat it out are just sick of being punched all year round by a party that only appreciates us on election day, if then. And now we’re bad guys because we chose to vote “no confidence?” What kind of co-dependent thinking is that?

  183. 183
    Gene108 says:

    @Chris:

    Free trade / globalization has done more eliminate extreme global poverty than anything else tried.

    It is not inherently bad.

  184. 184
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Loviatar:

    Facts, not suppositions, not beliefs. Point to the facts where this is shown.

    Here you go.

  185. 185
    jibeaux says:

    I simultaneously believe all of the following, which may be contradictory.
    1) unions have been unfairly portrayed to the point where they are not sympathetic to a majority of the population.
    2) there are also substantive issues to an extent, the biggest of which is probably the degree of protection of worthless employees. E.g. in NC, not even a union but state employee subject to some protections, an SBI analyst who was a major fraud and whose testimony resulted in multiple overturned convictions got back pay from his firing.
    3) the extent to which this perception can be rehabilitated is limited, and we probably cannot bring unions back to what they were
    4) many union households vote against their own interests anyway, see e.g. 38% voting for Scott Walker
    5) the success of populist ballot initiatives which may be supported by labor, do not require the support of labor to win
    6) conclusion: I think we ought to focus elsewhere. At least here, income inequality or what to do about it was not a focus of the campaign. It would be good to start by caring about it and running on the most popular measures to address it before dipping into unions.
    This is not an area of my expertise, but it’s just how it feels from here.

  186. 186
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Someguy:

    Unions are a great idea but at some point the notion of open borders is at odds with attempts to improve worker terms and benefits. If you make the supply of workers nearly unlimited, then the demand for those individual workers is lower, and that’s reflected in lower wages.

    Exactly why globalization has been so effective. The unions would have to work across borders, too, and that is not going to happen because white union members in the U’S. are not going to strike to support workers in China.

  187. 187
    p.a. says:

    @Cervantes: time will tell. I think she’s strong enough to challenge the party even if the idea is to co-op her.

  188. 188
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Betty Cracker: Betty, the fast food movement isn’t over.

    Check out what SEIU is up to in St Petersburg with the citizen’s budget review.

    New paradigm for the US.

  189. 189
    Loviatar says:

    @d58826:

    Of course you might take a broader view that a key liberal position is the maintenance of a democratic controlled Senate, the start at re-taking the House and regaining control of the state governments to be ready to redraw the congressional boundaries in 2020 and last but not least appointments to all levels of the courts and regulatory agencies.

    While your broader view contains main worthy items, it fails to mention any of the things that has cost the Democrats elections since we let the Reagan Democrats run the party. Since then we’ve turned away from our main focus of jobs, wages and civil rights. The things that you mention all are very important, but they are not likely to get someone to the poll in an off year election.

    ———

    But then I tend to view long term strategy as important as short term tactics.

    While you’re stroking that long term strategic view, you’ve ignored a alot of people worried about their jobs, their pay and the way their being treated in the streets. You’ll never get to implement your strategy if you don’t take care of your tactics.

  190. 190

    @Gene108: Without worker protections though, people at the bottom of the economic ladder get screwed, everywhere.

  191. 191
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Lovi is going to say that that’s simply because the label “liberal” has been demonized. Lovi will not be correct.

  192. 192
    C.V. Danes says:

    @The Other Bob:

    Liberals have bought into the belief that the death of manufacuring is inevitable and that protectionism is bad…

    Neo-liberals believe that; most liberals do not. Please don’t confuse one with the other :-)

  193. 193
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @gene108:

    When American businesses started facing competition from a rebuilt Europe and Japan, management was slow to adapt to better practices. Unions got a disproportionate share of the blame for the inability of U.S. companies to adapt, but the broader issue was increased competition from competitors, who were doing the same thing you did but better and at a lower cost.

    It’s not the unions as agents were trying to ruin American business, but American labor law that’s the problem.

    The US traded the right to strike for a legal-lite grievance/arbitration system of dispute resolution. Since the employer has been given all the power (with a strike being illegal), the only way for the union in this system to exert any leverage is the law that requires the employer to bargain changes to wages and working conditions. Thus, any change the employer wants to make the unions dig in their heels and go nuclear refusenik on. To do otherwise would be malpractice.

    If you don’t want unions impeding “progress” you’d have to make the partners more equal another way … oh I dunno … making walk-offs and strikes legal again.

    Heads I win tails you lose labor law has brought us to this point.

  194. 194
    Cervantes says:

    @El Cid:

    I think one consequence of the American right’s entracement with violent suppression of third world reformism and independence in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is that they fell in love with both the authoritarian repression and the astonishingly hierarchical concentrations of wealth they were backing

    Perhaps, but leaving aside the definition of “the American right,” did you mean to suggest that Democrats were less enthusiastic about “violent suppression of third world reformism and independence” all through that period?

  195. 195

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Yep:

    To some extent these differences between the two parties are the result of compositional differences: While 58% of Republicans and Republican leaners identify as conservative, only about four-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners (42%) identify as liberal.

    http://www.people-press.org/20.....-victory/#

    Short version: most Republicans say they’re conservatives. Most Democrats say they’re moderates. So where, exactly, is Loviatar’s liberal majority hiding?

  196. 196
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar:

    Since then we’ve turned away from our main focus of jobs, wages and civil rights.

    You’re again assuming that the Democratic Party is a populist or labor party by nature. Would that it were so. I don’t know where you live, but talk to your neighbors who are open and uncloseted Democrats. See how they feel about these things. You may well be surprised.

  197. 197
    David Fud says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Under the current laws if union leaders and C-suite work together Euro style somebody is getting it good and hard. The US would need to completely reform its labor laws.

    Yup.

  198. 198
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @David in NY:

    What seemed odd was Roberts’s apparent assumption that collective bargaining, not federal law, was the basic worker protection, which would either be incredible naivete or incredible machiavellianism — making the default protection the one that has become the weakest under current conditions.

    It’s machiavellian. Always, always, always blame the union for the shitty stuff the company does and gets away with. The law makes sure that it’s your officers’ fault if you fail collectively to fight detrimental changes and gives the owners a “no-backsies” backstop if you, as rank and file member who cannot stage a protest of your own (that would be “direct dealing” or get into illegal strike territory) turf your officers at the next election. “Too bad, that was over two years ago and you can’t file a challenge with the labor board because your time has run out.”

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): If you assume that they’re there, then the whole theory makes sense: “Look at all these pod people who took over the Democratic Party! They’re impostors who act squishy and moderate and like compromise because they’re a bunch of corrupt corporatists! Let’s chase ’em away and take it all back!” The alternative is that the squishy moderates willing to consider compromise are actually the majority, and battling populist liberals are the minority _within their own party_. Which would explain a lot of why they behave the way they do. It’s not a conspiracy against us that only a few select prophets can see. We don’t have the numbers.

  200. 200

    @C.V. Danes:

    And now we’re bad guys because we chose to vote “no confidence?”

    In our winner-takes-all system, your friends didn’t vote “no confidence.” They voted Republican. They don’t get to bitch now about the consequences of their decision to let the Republicans win.

  201. 201
    Loviatar says:

    @gene108:

    1. The PPACA is not a Republican healthcare plan. The hard parts of it, such as cost controls and taxes are not something Republicans wanted to do on a national level and were not suggested when Heritage floated the idea of an individual mandate in 1993. “Romney-care” was crafted by a Democratic state legislature in Massachusetts.

    You know I’ve seen this in several places now, usually Democratic sites that want to highlight how PPACA is a great policy, yada,yada yada. They really needed a good comeback from those of us who pointed out that, hey, umm, uhh, its a Republican based policy that was floated to deter the Clinton’s healthcare plan. So, they point to the changes and say see its not a Republican policy. yeah whatever. Was it based on a Republican developed policy?

    ———

    You know what changed between 2008 and 2010? Citizens United. Look up Operation Red State. GOP operatives courted rich folks in several states to throw money at down ticket races to take control of state houses. State Legislatures, who may have had to only run one or two TV ads two to three weeks before the election were getting hit with attack ads from third party groups months before the election started.

    Money is important, but its only the second most important thing in an election. You know whats the most important, your people voting. I have more people vote for me I win.

    ———

    Republican wins have more to do with other things than just appealing to a “narrow tent”

    Tell me, what other thing is more important than having more of their people vote for them than yours voting for you.

  202. 202
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    Short version: most Republicans say they’re conservatives. Most Democrats say they’re moderates. So where, exactly, is Loviatar’s liberal majority hiding?

    The is no liberal majority, because if there is one thing a liberal has more disdain for than a conservative, it’s another liberal. And I say that as a liberal :-)

  203. 203
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar:

    I have more people vote for me I win.

    Given that, you appear to think the first step towards this end is to declare that you’re quite happy having fewer people voting for you. This is why I’m surprised that I’m taking your points seriously.

  204. 204
    Calouste says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    If you’ve got cops murdering your people for kicks in broad daylight and the most you can turn out is 128 new voters, you’re beyond saving or help.

    That’s what’s going on. As to how liberal these particular folks are, I don’t know and don’t ask. But there were a bunch of people there who desperately need to turn out and save their community, and they had better things to do.

    I don’t think it’s as much that “they had better things to” rather than that people like the ones in Ferguson don’t believe that voting, participating in democracy, will make the tiniest difference to their daily lives. And considering that what has been sold in America since 1776 as democracy is “rich white men doing more or less whatever the fuck they want”, and non-whites and the poor either legally or effectively not having a vote, you can’t really blame them.

    America needs to get rid of the myth that it started as a democracy in 1789. It barely started as a democracy in 1965.

  205. 205
    Loviatar says:

    @Cacti:

    Howard Dean ran a campaign to win the netroots

    And the running to win the netroots differs from a standard Democratic campaign how. They are your democratic base, a lot more politically aware that your typical voter, but no different from most democratic voters.

  206. 206
    Loviatar says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Their core of true believers is enough to win an election, and ours isn’t. There are enough Democrats to win an election if you lump together the liberals and the moderates. Split them up and it’s death.

    Again, facts not in evidence. see California

  207. 207
    Gene108 says:

    @Chris:

    Money is a huge factor today. Liberals tend to ignore its importance in our politics, but usually the candidate with the most money wins.

    Throw in CU money and there’s a disparity that is killing Dems.

    1964, fifty years ago, less than thirty years after the Great Depression ended. I think the hard right-wing still heard foot steps, from the 1930’s, of communism and the potential end of capitalism to be as brash as today; plus the white patriarchy still had tremendous power, since the CRA was just passed, the VRA was a year away, and the feminism was still nascent.

    The existential threats white people feel now to their place in society did not exist as much then, so the powers that be were also more we secure.

    You could after all fire a stewardess for getting married, and you could openly have a policy not to promote blacks, Jews, etc.

  208. 208
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @C.V. Danes: Younger workers in some industries–for example pharmacy, which has turned into retail, TPS-report hell instead of the own-your-own-business dream of old–may be more inclined to see a union rather than a useless trade association as an answer. Conditions for software engineers vary a lot. Tech in particular is pretty anti-union despite a landscape that includes a lot of exploitation. California is a strong union state and unions have helped change state laws which end up protecting tech workers whether they realize it or not.

    Americans love to believe they’re going it alone and doing it themselves when they’re relying on the work of others.

    But at least those min wage laws passed.

  209. 209
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @C.V. Danes: Another reason why a strategy supposedly predicated on having a tent around just the True Scotsmen Liberals is unlikely to fare very well. There’s nothing liberals and lefties enjoy more than cutting each other to ribbons for perceived failings. By the time you get just the True Liberals, you’ll end up with a tent that has one hipster dude with tattoos and an iPhone and one gay woman of color with a tambourine, glaring at each other distrustfully, with a line of tape down the middle.

  210. 210
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar: No moderate Democrats in California? Oh… kay.

  211. 211

    @Loviatar:

    Uh, you may want to look at Jerry Brown’s actual record rather than the one you’ve invented for him in your head. He is absolutely a moderate, corporation-loving Democrat, not a liberal one. In fact, the vast majority of our Democratic politicians in the state are moderates, not liberals.

  212. 212
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    For instance, fast food franchise owners should be able to band together to collectively deal with the management at McDonalds and Burger King and Taco Bell.

    You hit a good one there. About 15 years ago some wily franchisers figured out that the law allowed them to run a vampiric franchise and suckers would still line up to get drained. See: Moe’s, Quizno’s, etc.

  213. 213
    Keith G says:

    The natural constituencies of the Democratic Party is an extraordinarily diverse slice of American society. That diversity can be quite a hindrance as it can be difficult to motivate and coordinate such a large group of people into unified action, e.g. voting.

    As has been mentioned several times above, a critical aspect of the Republican success has been its ability to find fissures in the Democratic coalition and drive apart folks who should otherwise be allied. therefore, it is very important that the Democrats find some leaders who can be dynamic teachers of their base – some charismatic men and women who can be cheerfully aggressive expose the many commonalities that link the Democratic coalition.

    Without this being done, I’m not sure how such a widely diverse group of citizens can be held together long enough to be a force for more than just a few sporadic elections.

  214. 214
    Bob In Portland says:

    In 2009 there was legislation to make it easier for places to unionize. What happened to that?

  215. 215
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: Maybe if you wholeheartedly embraced the Democratic Party as your party, even though many of it’s positions are not as progressive as yours, you might find it more welcoming to you.

  216. 216
    RareSanity says:

    @p.a.:

    You don’t think we want to bring FiOS to every frackin residential unit on the planet?

    While you and other “rank and file” workers may want to, Verizon the corporate entity doesn’t…and they, along with AT&T, have long ago abandoned any plans to even try. They’ve decided that wireless is “good enough”, even though there are very real constraints on available spectrum, and actual consistent, reliable bandwidth wireless can deliver.

    Why? Because fiber-to-the-home is more expensive. Not that they can’t afford to do it, because they most certainly can, but it would make their ludicrous profits merely outrageous for a few years while they upgraded their infrastructure. Also, with net neutrality in the news lately…the dirty little secret is that they prefer for things to be wireless because they know that wireless internet will NEVER be subject to the same regulations as wired services.

    Even the initial rules that were struck down by the Supreme Court contained a mile long list of exceptions for wireless internet.

  217. 217
    Bob In Portland says:

    The reasons why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are so appealing is because they address the issues. Again this year they’ve tried to embarrass Republican positions on vets on Veterans’ Day, but the message does not penetrate the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

    Republicans in Congress get to be shadows in turning down aid for vets, for jobs programs, for anything positive for the 99%. That’s in large part because our media allows them to remain shadows.

  218. 218
    Loviatar says:

    @gene108:

    You presume liberals are the core of the Democratic party. Facts not in evidence.

    Even though I did not make an assertive statement saying liberals are the core of the Democratic party (liberal policies are the core of the Democratic party) I’ll provide the facts:

    As I’ve stated previously, while people may self identify as Republicans the generally support Democratic policies (i.e. Liberal policies).

    Views of Marijuana – Legalization, Decriminalization, Concerns

    Republicans and Democrats both overwhelmingly support net neutrality

    etc., etc

    ———

    So what’s your plan for having a great Liberal take over of the Democratic Party?

    Have you guys continue to lose every non presidential election until you figure out that ruling does not require a majority. Also, you don’t negotiate with evil

  219. 219
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    I don’t know where you live, but talk to your neighbors who are open and uncloseted Democrats. See how they feel about these things. You may well be surprised.

    @FlipYrWhig: This is a good point. Most of my so-called “liberal” Democratic neighbors think that objecting to open displays of racism (while indulging in it in their quiet rooms), not objecting to gay marriage, and not feeding poor people into a woodchipper is all the qualifications they need to be a member of the party.

    80+ percent of these people think unions are vile and exist only to protect murdering cops and pedophile teachers.

    I honestly don’t know where you start with human material like this.

  220. 220

    Last thing before I head out to enjoy the last couple of days of my vacation: Loviatar seems to forget that the “small tent” of the Republicans contains about 60 percent of the US’s population (aka the majority of white voters in the US). Not exactly a pup tent there.

  221. 221
    Paul in KY says:

    @Keith G: Those are the single issue voters I mentioned earlier.

  222. 222
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Unions and environmentalists are often strongly at odds, of course, and that’s my understanding of at least part of the politics of Keystone and the long-running debate over the nature of the “Democratic base,” especially in places where Democrats aren’t doing very well among the white working class.

    The at-odds actually starts within the labor movement itself and specifically within the AFL-CIO!

    Note a number of times a trade union or craft union has gotten the national AFL to sign onto something only to have other unions find out about that shit later and re-lobby the AFL to back the fuck off! (For example some of the content “protection” laws.)

    Last year a pipefitter, which is a pretty white, old school union, no surprise there, went off about Keystone yadda yadda, fear-mongered about trains, yadda yadda. The room was full of some pretty radical union members (academics, grad students … me) who were getting more and more upset. I finally shut him up by pointing out that he was dissing every union member who worked on the railroad with his stupid ignorant oil trains fear-mongering. (Trackworkers–UTU–are pretty big in Florida.)

    This short-sighted, silo’d attitude that a few good jobs now and screw everybody else is good, fuck the consequences, I think that’s going to be the past. Because you’re living in the past to think that labor has that kind of power to just swing around and fuck everyone else. And not every union is anti-environment anyway.

    You want some real betisme, look at what happened in the Bay Area with BART. Suburban richie rich political brokers teamed up with AFL as proxy for the construction unions to push an elevated BART project that was challenged under an Environmental Justice claim by the community. And labor was divided because the bus drivers and the BART drivers either were on strike or threatening to go on strike as they were being pushed for wage concessions while the regional planning board squandered millions and cut bus service.

    No, it’s not “good” for labor to push for unnecessary projects (Title VI claims! those are rare!) to enrich a few people while alienating entire communities and hurting the labor movement as a whole.

  223. 223
    Bob In Portland says:

    When you have a politician from Colorado who gets elected and can assert that Obama is possessed by the Devil, we are truly fucked.

  224. 224
    Loviatar says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The current Republicans have been effective at stopping things from being done. Democrats in general and liberal Democrats in particular are interested in actually doing something positive. It makes a difference.

    Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, sometimes making a difference means stopping something from getting done.

  225. 225
    bemused says:

    @Buddy H:

    Oh my, Beck is hysterical over his medical issue. Sure brings back memories of when he had hemorrhoid surgery and made a video of himself high on pain meds recounting his experience a few days later.

  226. 226
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Not true. Republicans pander to racism, but not all white Americans are racist. Or vote that way. The problem is motivating people to vote. If the DLC continues to serve up Republikan-Lite the Dems will keep on losing. So the question is: Is this on purpose?

  227. 227
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Belafon:

    But as to the point in your second paragraph, it won’t cost as much as you think because there are very few companies where employees are the major cost.

    When dozens of big businesses caved to the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s demands and starting paying a surcharge into the CIW workers’ welfare fund, thus raising the price of crunchy tomatoes, did you notice?

    Did anyone notice?

    The notion that workers must live below the poverty line to keep the business afloat is a canard.

  228. 228
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Chris: It’s less that in the political calculation than the fact that labor is a big donor. (Secondarily, it’s also a fairly effective GOTV machine.) Thus, labor endorsements can matter in elections. So if you’re a GOPer and you see the state unionizing that means the Democratic Party might come back and you might lose your cushy job or at least have to fight harder for reelection and pander to those people instead of just your donors at their champagne parties.

  229. 229
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Our current issues are purely distributional. There’s a high likelihood of economic limitations in the near future, but the distributional issues are so severe they don’t have to hurt most people at all, if we’re actually willing to do something about it.

    And it’s not just by household. As Americans, we live wasteful, yet very stressful lives.

    Huge homes (that we can barely keep after)
    Suburban sprawl (that traps Grandpa in his house)
    Enormous cars (but we don’t walk anywhere)
    Eating out nightly (and then going on blood pressure and diabetes meds)

    Go anywhere else in the world and you’ll be just shocked at the US built environment. It’s insane. Yet…

    We work insane hours
    We’re in debt for life
    We’re not allowed to have too much of a private life away from work
    We can’t even call in sick
    Some of us can’t even pee on the job when we need to pee, never mind take a real break
    Many of us are forced to “pretend to work” to please the boss while producing nothing to enhance the bottom line (this counter must be manned at all times even if there are no customers, you must run this bus route on holiday night even if nobody’s riding, you can’t leave early even though your tasks are done for the day, you can’t talk to your buddy at work in sight of customers), which is very emotionally and mentally taxing

  230. 230
    Loviatar says:

    I know I haven’t convinced many here, but I hope some of you think it through, why does ruling require a majority. With our current political atmosphere and structure as it is, a determined minority can rule quite successfully. We have the post Reagan Republican party as an example.

    ———

    I’m Out, Purity Pony forever bitches.

  231. 231
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar:

    liberal policies are the core of the Democratic party

    Says you. The not-you portion of the Democratic Party seems to have other opinions on the subject.

    Still don’t know how you get from losing one way, to losing much worse some other way, to VICTORY! You’ve got the “Steal Underpants” part and the “Profits!” parts, but you’ve still got a bunch of question marks in the middle.

  232. 232
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @cmorenc:

    In their struggle to establish bargaining power and benefits for workers the union’s perspective understandably became focused on their adversarial relationship with management – but this blinded them to the need to also become commonly invested with as owners of rather than merely contract workers with the company, so that increases in pay or benefits flowed more directly from their stake in the company’s success

    As an outsider you’ve missed the point again. UNIONS didn’t make this choice–CONGRESS made this choice!

    You can’t yell at unions and tell them to change–you have to change the law!

  233. 233
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Loviatar: A determined minority can stop many things from being done. Determined minorities do not have much of a track record in doing not-yet-done things. Thus endeth the lesson.

  234. 234
    mainmati says:

    @David Fud: That history is a bit simplified. With few exceptions, the owner class in the U.S. never accepted the legitimacy of unions. They were basically forced to accept the union movement because laws were passed that legitimized them. But they have always hated them so there was never going to be any possibility of union representation on boards of directors as you see in Europe, Germany especially, much less shareholders. The other distinction is that government, specifically the national government, is considered legitimate in Europe with a distinctive role in providing the social safety net even among most conservatives. In the U.S., a significant and politically powerful part of the electorate thinks government is fundamentally illegitimate (until it’s not there, of course).

  235. 235
    Kryptik, A Man Without a Country says:

    I’m hardly sold on Loviatar’s solution of the ‘more cohesive small tent’, but it seems a lot of the counterpoints being brought up here basically boil down to ‘accept that conservatives own this country and are ‘Rea’ America’ compared to us’.

    Not that I disbelieve that anymore, considering things. But that pretty much says we need to admit that the GOP has won outright because they really are America, and we’re not. And I don’t WANT to believe that, much as I’ve grown to.

  236. 236
    Fair Economist says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    There are enough Democrats to win an election if you lump together the liberals and the moderates. Split them up and it’s death.

    Except the “moderates” aren’t moderates on policy positions. There’s overwhelming support in the public for substantial increases in the minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, stricter financial regulation, medical marijuana use, and stricter gun controls, among many other positions. These positions are consistently on the far left flank of the party leadership or completely off the table.

    The problem is that people don’t realize what the Republicans and the Democrats stand for. And a big part of that is that the Democrats don’t really stand for much at this point other than “not as bad as the Republicans”. We just need to support, and support loudly, about a half-dozen “controversial” positions that actually receive overwhelming popular support.

  237. 237
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @daddyj: The sad thing is that while the “screwing” is sometimes real (“you can’t paint your office, the painter has to paint your office” “okay, can I put in a request?” “sorry, two year backlog to paint your office” “WTFF!?!”), a lot of people have severe Dunning-Kruger about stuff like … electricity.

    I don’t think I’d want to be at a trade show at McCormick place where engineers (not electrical engineers, mind you, software “engineers”* and civil engineers) and marketroids were plugging in all their crazy whiz-bang crap on octopus plugs and running stuff where the devil may care. Because those booths block my access to the fire exits, for one thing.

    *-if you don’t have to pass a civil service exam and maintain your credentials with cont ed you’re not an engineer … btw, locomotive engineers probably have to pass more tests than civil engineers to stay employed so hur hur I don’t think so and yes it’s a gov’t requirement not some industry whatever whatever like “MSCE”

  238. 238
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bob In Portland: I wholeheartedly agree with Pres. Truman & Pres. Roosevelt that when people have a choice between a Republican and a Fake Republican, they’ll choose the Republican every time.

  239. 239
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Conditions for software engineers vary a lot. Tech in particular is pretty anti-union despite a landscape that includes a lot of exploitation.

    Having been in IT for 25+ years, I can attest to that first hand. However, a lot of it is the big H1B visa hammer that IT companies hold over their employees, both those who are citizens and those here on the visas. That’s why Facebook, et. al., are pushing for even more: not to provide opportunities to creative people from around the world, but to create a system of highly trained serfs over which they have tremendous leverage.

  240. 240
    D58826 says:

    @Loviatar: Maybe. But the democratic base should be concerned with the longer view and support politicians who support that view. They are the political junkies in this process and understand how the system works. . As an example and I realize it didn’t work out so well this time around is immigration reform. As a political junkie I realize that Obama had to delay the executive action in order to help some vulnerable Senators. Once they are reelected, with the help of the non-base voters who are concerned about the minimum wage, then he and the Senate can proceed on immigration. The base isn’t enough to win the election so to get those loosely attached voters you have to pitch the tactical issues like minimum wage, etc. as well. The base has to realize that in order to play the long game you have to compromise on the short game. If its done right the two approaches should compliment one another. A democratic congress will push for an increase in the minimum wage or better highways and other issues that are important to loosely connected mid-trerm voter but are still core policy positions for the base.

    The GOP has done well using this approach, at least up till now. Of course what they have really succeed at is playing the long game (election wins) while hiding the true short game (pandering to the 1%, tax cuts, etc) and hiding that fact from the base. One of these days even the GOP base will begin to ask ‘since I’ve supported you in the long game, now that you have won why do you keep ignoring my short game issues. Some of that seems to be happening already, hence the tea party challengers

  241. 241
    Paul in KY says:

    @Fair Economist: That is not being a ‘Fake Republican’. Be proud about the positions that are completely at odds with the republican positions.

  242. 242
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Kay: I think DeBlasio’s #’s in communities of color (he was pro-public school and his opponent pro-charter) gives an indication of how much communities of color are buying into that condescending and, as you point out, completely counter-factual rhetoric.

    Reality is the destruction of the NOLA public schools and the NOLA teacher’s union which is majority African American and in fact mostly Black women, and of course what has happened to students under the “give away–sell it off” regime.

  243. 243
    C.V. Danes says:

    @FlipYrWhig: There is some truth to that :-)

  244. 244
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Tyler Forrest: Very good points there.

    However, wages aren’t the whole picture. Bad and unsafe working conditions (including speed-ups) can be a bigger issue for workers than wages. Right now American workers are taking a whoopin’ and losing everything their great-grandparents fought and died for.

  245. 245
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @patrick II: Two points:

    Unions couldn’t even cogently explain to their rank and file what EFCA was about, so it was doomed from the start. Capital ran a cheap and cheerful anti campaign and it was all over.

    Union organizing stalled under Bush because there was effectively no NLRB. Obama got it working again, and we’re seeing organizing activity again, which is good because a lot of unionized state jobs have been lost in this era. So the executive DOES matter.

    Btw, Clinton was pretty bad for unions, but it seems like a lot of union people don’t get that Obama’s been the best guy we’ve had in there since, when–? The 70s when labor still had political power?

    The GOP knows what Obama did for labor. That’s why they went after his recess appointments. But apparently our side doesn’t get it. This is why we lose.

  246. 246
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Maybe if you wholeheartedly embraced the Democratic Party as your party, even though many of it’s positions are not as progressive as yours, you might find it more welcoming to you.

    Possibly. But I just as easily could counter that maybe if the Democrats wholeheartedly embraced liberals, even though many of their positions are more progressive than the norm, they might be more willing to support it on election day.

    And just to be clear, I DID vote last week, and with the exception of one candidate (Cuomo), along the Democratic party line.

  247. 247
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kryptik, A Man Without a Country:

    it seems a lot of the counterpoints being brought up here basically boil down to ‘accept that conservatives own this country and are ‘Rea’ America’ compared to us’.

    No, the counterpoints said that if you insist on a liberal only party, the conservative will win. A large percentage of Democrats are moderates. Moderates plus liberals can win, but if either the moderates or the liberals stay home, the conservatives win.

  248. 248
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @FromTheBackOfTheRoom:

    “And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”_ The Empty Suit, 2007
    Enough duplicity in that statement to make an Obot swoon.

    You are a liar.

    Madison, WI — the worker movement told Obama to stay away. Yet the rumor persists that Obama snubbed them. NO. They told him to stay away!

    Obama recess-filled the NLRB and the GOP-controlled DC Circuit came at him, hard.

    Obama DID walk that line for you, he put himself and his presidency on the line for you.

    You are one big liar and an ungrateful bastard!

  249. 249
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Loviatar:

    I know I haven’t convinced many here, but I hope some of you think it through, why does ruling require a majority. With our current political atmosphere and structure as it is, a determined minority can rule quite successfully. We have the post Reagan Republican party as an example.

    Because that would be an autocracy, not a democracy, and god help you if you are not ideologically aligned with that “determined minority.”

  250. 250
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Madison, WI — the worker movement told Obama to stay away. Yet the rumor persists that Obama snubbed them. NO. They told him to stay away!

    This is correct. People asked him to stay away to keep a focus on the issues rather than Obama vs Walker.

  251. 251
    C.V. Danes says:

    @mainmati:

    In the U.S., a significant and politically powerful part of the electorate thinks government is fundamentally illegitimate (until it’s not there, of course).

    Also, a significant and politically powerful part of the electorate thinks that America is just a business, and should be run that way.

  252. 252
    Fair Economist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    No, the counterpoints said that if you insist on a liberal only party, the conservative will win. A large percentage of Democrats are moderates. Moderates plus liberals can win, but if either the moderates or the liberals stay home, the conservatives win.

    The problem is that the country is actually mostly populated by liberals who *think* they’re moderates because of the Wurlitzer continually spouting off against “libruls”. If you actually put the liberal positions on the table the “moderates” will flock to you because that’s what they want. If we go out for no gun purchases by criminals, a big hike in the minimum wage, financial re-regulation, etc., our tent will get bigger, not smaller.

  253. 253
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @The Other Bob: Manufacturing interdependency may stave off wars, however.

    This doesn’t work with raw natural resources, of course. But there’s some evidence it’s quite effective with more complex trade relationships, shipping finished goods, parts, and so on back and forth.

    Lost in the hysteria about China owning (part of) our debt is that if the Chinese leadership comes at us they fuck themselves.

  254. 254
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Fair Economist: Yeah, the labels are mostly self-applied.

  255. 255
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Fair Economist:

    We just need to support, and support loudly, about a half-dozen “controversial” positions that actually receive overwhelming popular support.

    And also preempt tax panic and race panic, which is where all of liberalism founders in the eyes of the otherwise persuadable.

    That’s why I think, unfortunately, that liberal policy worthy of the name will not arise until economic conditions improve significantly. Because that’s when people feel generous. Force them to live an embattled, precarious life and they’ll snarl about how that guy over there doesn’t have it hard enough yet. Where it’s especially prevalent is when it comes to the environment, but that’s not the only place it occurs. If they’re mostly happy, they won’t feel so sour about black people and Mexicans and other sorts they can dismiss as moochers. But you can’t convince them that they’re happy if they aren’t, and you can’t promise them you’ll make them happy if they aren’t. They hate ineffectiveness and they hate false promises. IOW, if “economic populism” is going to work, it’s not as a political strategy, not directly at least. It’ll work as an economic strategy that has political effects, chief among which will be relief from the crushingness of modern life.

  256. 256
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Someguy:

    Unions are a great idea but at some point the notion of open borders is at odds with attempts to improve worker terms and benefits. If you make the supply of workers nearly unlimited, then the demand for those individual workers is lower, and that’s reflected in lower wages.

    Bullshit. It has nothing to do with demand. It has to do with the control employers have over immigrant workers. Take that shit away and you’d see way more unionization of Central American and Mexican workforces than you do already. Oh, you weren’t aware that the victims in the meat rendering plants and cleaning hotel rooms and serving food and changing granny’s diapers and catheter (West Indians for this one) and picking fruit haven’t repeatedly attempted to unionize, sometimes successfully?

    And what’s stopped them are abusive deportations, illegal employer actions like seizing passports (shades of destroying manumission papers) or locking workers on the property, mendacious conservative jurisprudence (“home health workers aren’t allowed to have a union because argle bargle”) and so on?

    Hyatt immigrant workers just won a nearly decade long strike, By The Way.

    Someguy, my days of underestimating your intelligence come gently to a middle.

  257. 257
    Chris says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    The American Dream gone berserk.

  258. 258
    D58826 says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I guess this is the nub of the problem

    Btw, Clinton was pretty bad for unions, but it seems like a lot of union people don’t get that Obama’s been the best guy we’ve had in there since, when–? The 70s when labor still had political power?

    . While true but does anyone think that Bush 41 or Dole would have been better. Sometimes it is the lesser of two evils or in the immortal words of Rummy – you run with the candidates you have not the ones you wish you had. I suspect that FDR and Truman look a lot better in 2014 than the did when they were in office. BUT within that constraint democrats still have to run based on ideas. Politics is still local and ‘what have you done for me recently’.. I just can’t see the democrats succeeding with a chicken little ‘the sky is falling and it will kill you’ type of fear campaign.

  259. 259
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Fair Economist:

    If you actually put the liberal positions on the table the “moderates” will flock to you because that’s what they want.

    In theory. In practice, I don’t think so, because the vision bogs down with “who pays?”

  260. 260
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: Is that not just gross?

    I noticed this among some really lefty liberal sorts, the kind who loved Edwards and his “two Americas” speeches. They never warmed up to Obama.

    Supposed Dem “base” is not really the “base” if they consistently vote for very white Green party purity ponies or stay home rather than vote with the 12% of the country that’s melanin-enhanced.

    White supremacy is stupid and self-defeating (unless you ARE the 1%, then it’s a way to control useful idiots) but it has oh, so many subscribers.

  261. 261
    C.V. Danes says:

    @D58826:

    But the democratic base should be concerned with the longer view and support politicians who support that view.

    What I will tell you is that I highly doubt that the base of either party is concerned with the longer view. What the Republicans have is a committed core constituency that can directly trace its lineage of conservative attacks against the Constitution, by name practically, all the way back to before it was even signed. Liberal causes come and go, as do their champions. The only change in the conservative strategy is in how it has been marketed to each generation as the torch has been passed from one to the next along the way.

  262. 262
    LanceThruster says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    F#ck me, there’s some goofy merchandise over at the Beck site. If only I had $150 to burn for an autographed Beck Tear print. /s

  263. 263
    Fair Economist says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    IOW, if “economic populism” is going to work, it’s not as a political strategy, not directly at least. It’ll work as an economic strategy that has political effects, chief among which will be relief from the crushingness of modern life.

    I think it will work both as politics and policy. People do get excited about issues they care about, and “economic populism” will bring people out. And, once we win and implement the policies, we’ll get a further boost from people doing better.

    The “moderate” positions that are supposed to get people to vote Dem don’t work because for the most part they’re pretty unpopular. They’re mostly to make big-$ donors happy. The so-called “big tent” strategy doesn’t work because it doesn’t really add many people. We need a “tall tent” policy of sticking up for our policies rather than trying to sound more like Republicans.

  264. 264
    gene108 says:

    @Loviatar:

    I know I haven’t convinced many here, but I hope some of you think it through, why does ruling require a majority.

    You know, who else figured out you don’t need a majority to rule, but a highly organized minority? Lenin.

    I’d rather not follow in that fuckers footsteps.

    Republicans are doing this, intentionally or unintentionally I don’t know, but the consequences for most folks are not good and other than hanging onto power for the sake of hanging onto power Republican governance accomplishes little and only manages to keep a “peasant” revolt from happening because Democrats built enough of a social safety net that people are not starving to death.

  265. 265
    Fair Economist says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    In theory. In practice [pushing “liberal” positions] , I don’t think so, because the vision bogs down with “who pays?”

    Actually most don’t require large expenditures by the government – minimum wage, background checks for gun purchases, medical marijuana – these are all essentially free. And raising taxes on the wealthy is obviously going to bring money *in*. Oh, and cuts in the military are also very popular.

  266. 266
    D58826 says:

    @C.V. Danes: I do hope your wrong, nothing personal, just a very depressing thought.

    And yet since the Constitution was signed we have (whoever imperfectly) universal education, ended slavery and jim crow, women s suffrage, soc. security, medicare, food stamps, EPA, safer cars, etc. All ideas that when proposed were considered progressive/left/liberal or whatever the term of art was at the time and now they are considered just part of the foundation of the country by most people. The GOP will never stop trying to go back to 1614 but it does seem that the arc of history bends left even if slowly.

  267. 267
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Fair Economist: Higher minimum wage means more expensive hamburgers, background checks are the slippery slope to confiscation, weed makes you lazy and stupid, raising their taxes is a gateway to raising our taxes, etc. Check, maybe not checkmate, but check, with dumb arguments. They look like slam-dunks in isolation, but it never turns out that way. Everyone hates the cost of health care and insurance companies, and then you can get half of the country to hate any attempt to fix it _worse_. Look at the “net neutrality” thing, where the people who don’t like it make absolutely ass-backwards complaints against it that people then go around repeating. I don’t trust reason to carry the day.

  268. 268
    J R in WV says:

    @Chris: The VW plant we are talking about is in Chattanooga, TN, not in KY.

    There are lots of vehicle building plants in KY,, but not VW.

    I agree that unions in a southern automobile plant give the Republicans severe heartburn! They deserve it, though.

    I think the politicians would actually try to shut the VW plant down if the company and the UAW reach an agreement. It looked like that was in the cards just before the last union election.

    The Tennessee politicians were dumbfounded when the company came out in favor of the union organizing drive, they really don’t understand the point of European unionization, where the unions hold half the seats on the Board of Directors.

    No Republican would willingly allow a dirty unionist onto one of his company’s board of directors, not one of them!

    Unions represent power sharing, and Republicans are all about taking power and never letting it go. Very undemocratic, the whole core value of the Republican party, never sharing power. It flies in the face of everything America stands for, and yet people who consider themselves patriotic Americans still vote for an un-American political party that doesn’t believe in power sharing. At all.

    WE see it every day in congress lately, as they refuse to share power with the Black President, partly because he is Black, but also because he is a Democratic president.

    Well, I got far afield from putting the VW plant back int Tennessee, but it was all an honest digression, and nearly on point!

  269. 269
    J R in WV says:

    @Calouste:

    I think 50% of the Volkswagen AG board is union reps.

    I don’t feel like looking it up, but there it is if anyone wants to dispute me.

  270. 270
    Chris says:

    @J R in WV:

    Thanks for the correction.

    To quite an extent, I think it’s simply fear of heresy. As you say, things like VW leave them dumbfounded: the simple fact that the German model of unions built into the corporations EXISTS, and the kraut economy not only isn’t failing but is kicking ass, is such a slap in the face that they want it buried a thousand feet underground, lest their worldview have to face the consequences.

  271. 271
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    Closer to 30%.

    NB: At Volkswagen AG (and many other German companies), there are two boards. The union representatives are on the Supervisory Board, which is the higher of the two.

  272. 272
    J R in WV says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I have never been so disappointed as when I realized that a (sizable) majority of white Americans are still stone cold racists.

    We have the best man in the office of the president that we will ever have in our lifetimes, and most white voters hate him for the color of his skin, even though he saved the world from a crushing depression, got our troops out the the mid-east (for now anyways) might be able to help end the Ebola epidemic in Africa, many other huge accomplishments.

    And they still hate him in spite of all the good things he has done for them, their families, their livelihoods.

    Fuckers! I hates me some racist haters, I does!1!

  273. 273
    J R in WV says:

    @Cervantes:

    You are wrong. From the web site of Volkswagen AG:

    “Half of the overall 20 members of the Supervisory Board are shareholder representatives. In accordance with Article 11(1) of the Articles of Association, the State of Lower Saxony is entitled to appoint two of these shareholder representatives for as long as it directly or indirectly holds at least 15% of the Company’s ordinary shares. The remaining shareholder representatives on the Supervisory Board are elected by the Annual General Meeting. The other half of the Supervisory Board consists of employee representatives elected by the employees in accordance with the Mitbestimmungsgesetz (German Codetermination Act). A total of seven of these employee representatives are Company employees elected by the workforce; the other three employee representatives are representatives of the trade unions elected by the workforce.

    Here’s hoping I got the blockquote and the strong attribute both organized correctly. Well, heck, I didn’t get the block quote right, but it’s all quoted from the VW AG web page, which see.

    In any case, 10 of the 20 Supervisory Board members are employees with 7 selected in one way and 3 in another way, all representing the workers rather than the stockholders or management.

  274. 274
    C.V. Danes says:

    @D58826:

    The GOP will never stop trying to go back to 1614 but it does seem that the arc of history bends left even if slowly.

    I would agree with that. The journey has been long and bloody, with fits and starts and reversals, and continues to be so, but the very long term trend does seem to be for the better.

  275. 275
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    Yes, I see what you mean. Looking not at the rules you found but at a list of actual board members, I counted 6 out of 20 before, hence the 30% — but upon looking at the list again I see one could argue that 9 or 10 out of 20 qualify, in which case your recalling 50% is more accurate. Thanks!

  276. 276
    Tripod says:

    US unions dabbled in ownership of troubled industries in the 70’s. The problem being, if it went well, ownership eventually wanted to cash out. That’s the American way.

  277. 277
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: Thank you for your response. People like you are urgently needed as Democrats, to help pull the party left. If you won’t call yourself a ‘Democrat’, those in the party will not listen (IMO).

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