Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's Wake Up - It's Not the Unions

The current assault on public employee labor unions has, of course, been exposed for what it is. It has nothing to do with balancing state budgets or reducing government spending. It is about power, as Paul Krugman has pointed out.

Krugman says, " In principle, every American has an equal say in our process. In practice, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (Koch brothers, for example). On paper, we're a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we're more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate. Given this reality, it is important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. Unions are one of the most important of these institutions."

Former Labor Secretary and Labor Economist Robert Reich says, "As long a Democrats refuse the talk about the build-up of wealth and income of the top level, and refuse to push increasing the top marginal tax rate on the super wealthy so they pay their fair share, Republicans will continue to convince people that it's all about big government and unions. The truth that must be told is that government spending has little to do with high unemployment, declining wages, falling home prices, and all the other horribles that have come to haunt most Americans."

"The reason the economy continues to be lousy for most Americans", Reich says, "is that so much income and wealth has been going to the very top that the vast majority no longer has the purchasing power to lift the economy out of it's doldrums. Average Americans aren't buying cars, aren't buying homes, aren't going to the malls. The richest 5 % are back in the stores, but a strong recovery cannot be built on the purchases of the richest 5%."

The truth is that as income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. Governor Walker's conversation with the hoax caller in which he "spilled the beans" about his real intent was very telling. The super rich have been using their billions to hoodwink the public, corrupt politics, and enlarge their oversized fortunes. They are bankrolling Republicans who want you to think that unions and government spending is the problem. Let's wake up.

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