Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's up with That?

Though I understand being critical of certain unions and certain union decisions (after all one should never fail to be critical where necessary), all-out union bashing continues to baffle me. Now, besides the fact that we owe many of our rights and privileges in no small part to union activism over the past one hundred and fifty years, the facts seem to clearly indicate that our prosperity is intimately connected to union membership in general. All the time I see rightwingers bash unions and tell us that they kill economic growth, that they kill freedom etc. And yet during the long post-war boom when prosperity in Western nations was at its height, union membership was also at its height. The facts are pretty clear - the countries with the highest unions membership enjoyed, in general, the greatest prosperity, the greatest social and economic equality, and were consistently the highest on all living indexes. Now, while connection isn't causation, at the very least the facts clearly show that high levels of union membership DOES NOT kill prosperity and clearly DOES increase economic equality over all, (which any decent economist will tell you encourages prosperity). And as union membership has gone down in Western nations, real wages have decreased and economic equality has tanked.

I have yet to see a single rightwinger (from the highest level economist to the lowest, uneducated bigot) address these simple facts. They never do because they know that there is no way out of it and the facts only get in the way of their ideology. Union membership in the West has reduced over time for a number of reasons - but the primary reason is that corporatists have used the globalization of the economic system to kill them so that they can make more profit on the backs of average working people. But as economic relations become clearer all the time, people are catching on slowly and over the next 25-50 years we will see real, old style revolutions that aim to correct the process of huge disparities in wealth and power. I am sure that the outcomes of some of these events will be bloody and horrific but their inevitability grows out of the recalcitrance on the part of the rich and powerful to recognize that they just can't have everything and that a healthy society is an equal one.


Lorne said...

I hope you are correct in your predictions here, Kairo. I do fear, however, the collective amnesia beyond recalling what was on celebrity TV last night that seems to afflict so many may prove to be an impediment. And, of course, the right-wing has never allowed facts and logic to get in the way of their demagogic ranting.

karen said...

I don't think most of the rich and powerful care about equality. I bet, actually, that the notion that they might be no better than the great unwashed is kind of abhorrent, and the illusion of being better than someone else must be maintained, whatever the cost to anyone or anything.

I am a member of a carpenter's union and also a scaffold instructor. I am saddened by how anti-union some of my co-workers and students are, but it always seems to come from an ignorance of what unions are. They seem to think that a union is just one more level of authority in their lives. When unions are operating that way, I think they do need criticism, but I also think they get that way from lack of participation. I have thought for a long time that the only way some people will understand what unions have done for us is to lose it.

Owen Gray said...

The simple truth, Kirby, is that unions force wealth down the economic ladder. Get rid of unions, and wealth and power are concentrated at the top.

After awhile, an economy collapses -- from the bottom up.

Owen Gray said...

The simple truth, Kirby, is that unions force wealth down the economic ladder.

Get rid of them, and wealth and power are concentrated at the top.

Eventually the economy collapses -- from the bottom up.