Labor 2.0 (initial thoughts)
This is going to be purposefully short. I want a discussion on this more than anything, as my thoughts are still very much forming.
Does a revived labor movement require protectionist policies, increasing tariffs, etc.? If not, what policies do need to change in order to strengthen labor? Obviously something is out of balance between big business and the working class. Question #2: Does a revived labor movement require harsher immigration policies?
Actually, I don’t think protectionism or closed-border policies are necessary in order to revive the labor movement. These seem like old ideas that applied to a very different economic situation and set of assumptions. Nor do I think the historical antipathy between labor and management needs to persist, as cooperative labor/management scenarios have been achieved elsewhere. But I could be wrong. Both cultural and political impediments may exist in the US that do not exist in places like Sweden.
The alternative to labor gains seems to be more redistribution through taxes, increased spending on entitlements and public services and so forth. Soak the super-rich, as it were. All this talk of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and so forth seem wrong-headed. Do we want a retirement crisis on our hands? Do we want full-fledged class warfare?
So increased spending on the back-end vis-a-vis taxation or increased distribution on the front-end vis-a-vis more collective bargaining, higher wages, etc. The third option is an increasingly wide inequality gap and eventually some sort of breakdown of the social order as the middle class shrinks past the point of viability. And again – while consumer goods have gotten cheaper, consumer necessities – from housing to healthcare to retirement – have gotten more expensive and our futures have become less certain – maybe not less certain than a century ago, but certainly less certain than post-WWII, post-New Deal America. That’s the real problem here, and no amount of savings on a 42” plasma screen TV are going to change that. The causes are manifold, true, but that doesn’t mean we would be wise to keep slashing taxes and hoping that the market will take care of everything.
Also, re: globalization. I don’t doubt many of the claims made by proponents of globalization that the overall, eventual effect is positive. My question is this: have we been thinking too much about the ends, and not enough about the process? Are we going about the right task in the wrong way?