Archive for corporate power – Page 2

The success of the #Occupy movement: "Invisible suffering was made visible" #OWS

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ows 99 percent

Rebecca Solnit wrote an inspiring op-ed in today's L.A. Times, one I've been waiting for someone to write. If you need a morale boost, please read it in full. Solnit is an author who spent time at Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street in 2011. A longer version of the op-ed can be found at tomdispatch.com.

In her piece, she traces movements, activist groups, a unique person here and there, and identifies their transformative moments. She identifies milestones and special people who have made a meaningful difference and changed the world because they galvanized others with their mission.

Real change may at first be incremental, halting, and sometimes frustratingly imperceptible to those who aren't really paying attention, but eventually, it takes hold in ways unimagined.

In other words, the efforts can result in achievements that have lasting impact. And that impact can be on the whole wide world, a country, a legislative body, or on the very participants of a movement. And then those participants pay it forward.

[T]he moment that counts is the one where civil society is its own rule, improvising the terms of an ideal society for a day, a month, a season [...]

Almost as soon as Occupy Wall Street appeared in the fall of 2011, the national conversation changed and the brutality and obscenity of Wall Street were suddenly being openly discussed. The suffering of ordinary people crushed by the burden of medical, housing or college debt came out of the shadows.

California passed a homeowner's bill of rights to curtail the viciousness of the banks, and in late 2012, Strike Debt emerged as an Occupy offshoot to address indebtedness in creative and subversive ways. Student debt suddenly became (and remains) a topic of national discussion, and proposals for student loan reform began to gain traction.

Invisible suffering was made visible. And, though Occupy was never primarily about electoral politics, it was nonetheless a significant part of the conversation that got Elizabeth Warren elected senator and prompted a few other politicians to do good things in the cesspit of the capital.

Change often happens when the brutality of the status quo is made visible and therefore intolerable. [...]

Occupy Wall Street allowed those silenced by shame, invisibility or lack of interest from the media to speak up. ... [T]he media and politicians had to change their language to adjust to a series of previously ignored realities.

Part of what gave Occupy its particular beauty was the way the movement defined "we" as the 99%. That phrase (along with that contagious meme "the 1%") entered our language, offering a far more inclusive way of imagining the world.

Occupy is still working behind the scenes. I know this because I communicate regularly with those who are deeply involved, and I see reports of their impressive accomplishments. The tents are now gone, the drums stopped beating... but Occupy's heart didn't.

patience

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Decline of organized labor has helped worsen racial wage gap

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union pay difference food industry

unions right to work for less cartoon gop

Meredith Kleykamp and Jake Rosenfeld are professors of sociology at the University of Maryland and the University of Washington, respectively. Both are members of the Scholars Strategy Network, and both wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.

The topic: How the decline of labor unions has widened the racial wage gap and that "African Americans and other people of color have a lot at stake." They track the history of unions, their rise, their more recent sliding numbers, and the effect that has had on wages:

[O]ur research aimed to discover what wage trends among blacks and whites, men and women, would have looked like if union membership in the private sector of the U.S. economy had not declined so sharply. Here is what we learned:

• Had union membership rates for women remained at late-1970s levels, racial wage inequality among women in private sector jobs today would be reduced by as much as 30%.

• If rates of union membership among African American men working in the private sector were as high today as in the early 1970s, weekly wages would now be about $50 higher. For a full-time worker, that translates to an income increase of $2,600 a year. Regardless of race, all male workers have lost ground in the private sector as unions have declined.

They describe the modern labor movement as "remarkably inclusive" and one that has boosted African American and white workers and their families economically. The authors also conclude that the dwindling number of private sector unions has made the state of America's economic and social problems worse, including racial wage gaps.

Here are a few of the benefits that unions have provided:

labor unions brought us

See: "What a difference a union can make!" and "Why unions matter, in a measly 1 minute 19 seconds."

chart graph why unions matter

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VIDEO: Why unions matter, in a measly 1 minute 19 seconds

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chart graph why unions matter

Via Colin Gordon from June 2012:

Author's analysis of Historical Statistics of the United States, unionstats.com, Piketty and Saez (2003), and The World Top Incomes Database (http://g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics....)

The video is from the Economic Policy Institute, and it shows how unions are declining, paralleling the abrupt uptick of income inequality. Gee, what a coincidence... and what a shame, because: "What a difference a union can make!"

Along with the video, Think Progress has three charts also showing why unions matter, including how the income of the richest one percent has risen as middle class incomes drop:

Income inequality is skyrocketing, while worker wages stagnate and more and more people leave unemployment for low-wage, part time jobs. [...]

[L]ike many workers, fast food employees could greatly benefit from the ability to collectively bargain. After all, their minimum wage jobs have actually become worth even less as time goes on. While those one percent of top earners are seeing a great spike in their incomes, the low-wage worker is feeling deflated.

Earlier I posted an L.A. Times reader who suggested, "Instead of tying the minimum wage to state law, let us tie that wage to corporate profits." Twitter pal @vinctee added, "Or CEO pay."

And another of my Twitter followers, @johnncastlerock, tweeted, "Raise to $16/hr and tie annual increases to national productivity. Corp 'profits' too easy to manipulate."

And finally, if you missed it, this is a must-see: A genius made this video, a British guy who calls himself a "Labor geek."

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VIDEO: A genius made this video, a British guy who calls himself a "Labor geek"

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labor day tweet Jeff Tiedrich

Link to tweet; link to Labor Day Wiki.

And please read my post "What a difference a union can make!"

In today's Los Angeles Times, there is an op-ed by Harold Meyerson (editor at large of the American Prospect and an op-ed columnist for the Washington Post), "A Labor Day proposal for labor: Extend the Civil Rights Act's Title VII protections to workers seeking to unionize." It ends with this:

By making union organizing a civil right, the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown could begin to end this public-policy paralysis. In a state where millions work for low wages, California's leaders could help revive collective bargaining in a nation from which it's almost disappeared, and begin rebuilding the kind of vibrant economy that was once America's and California's calling card to the world.

Then I ran across this video, which is brilliant. No kidding:

Jul 3, 2009

A union can make a big difference to people's perceptions of a job. For UK staff you can find out which unions may be relevant to your job at www.worksmart.org.uk/unionfinder

Via The Progressive Change Campaign Committee team:

It can be depressing to see workers under attack -- by Republican governors, by corporations, by opponents of Social Security...

This was made by John Wood, a British guy who calls himself a "Labor geek," and it's gone viral on YouTube.

happy labor day

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Group finds that ALEC falsified signatures on "stand your ground" letter to Sen. Dick Durbin

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alec

We've posted about ALEC a lot here at TPC. For example:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

And as ALEC Exposed explains:

ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher’s unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds.

Now we have this, via Think Progress:

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) a letter that claimed the Senator’s investigation into ALEC’s involvement “Stand Your Ground” laws was a form of “intimidation.” The letter was supposed to have carried the clout of about 300 state legislators who signed onto it, but, according to an investigation by progressive group by ProgressNow, many of the signatures on that letter were falsified or duplicated. [...]

The group said it was signed by 293 elected officials. But, ProgressNow found, 55 of the signatures are “blatantly invalid.”

ALEC itself is "blatantly invalid," yet it still dictates legislation on behalf of Corporate America. Let's hope this tarnishes ALEC's image and helps more people to become aware of how they operate, eventually leading to its undoing.

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Mayday! Mayday! for America's middle class

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mayday mayday via Huckkonopackicartoons.com

Via

So struggling Americans, how's that GOP-supported trickle-down economics workin' for ya? Same here. It's not. It never has, but that doesn't stop Paul Ryan or Eric Cantor from sticking up for their rich buddies at the expense of those living in poverty and families barely able to make it on their minimum wage and/or multiple low-paying jobs and/or unemployment checks and/or food stamps and/or no income or assistance whatsoever.

The middle class (what little is left of it) is hurting badly as Republican lawmakers count their millions of corporate dollars from their corporate pals and lobbyists now that Citizens United is the law of the land. That's all that really matters to them, that and privatizing the entire country while pushing hard for more power over those who see their own influence and potency diminishing.

To repeat, “Post-Citizens United, conservatives look at [union decline] & smell blood.” Unions support Dems. ‘Nuff said.

Hedrick Smith, former Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, and author of "Who Stole the American Dream?" wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that goes a little something like this:

We have become two Americas — literally, the 99% and the 1%. We have what a Citigroup investment brochure called the most eye-popping concentration of wealth in a great power since 16th century Spain. The numbers are staggering. From 1979 to 2011, 84% of the nation's increase in income has gone to the wealthiest 1%, according to Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist who now chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

As the president observed at Knox College in Illinois recently: "The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009. The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999." [...]

Based on Labor Department reports, economists tell us the productivity of the U.S. workforce rose 97% from 1945 to 1973, and the income of the average family rose 95%. In short, average workers reaped the benefits of rising U.S. efficiency along with their bosses. But since 1973, the picture has changed: Productivity has risen 80%, economists report, but the average family's income has risen only 10%, and that bump has come primarily because more women have entered the workforce, not because wages have gone up.... Three decades of going nowhere.

"Three decades of going nowhere." Let that sink in for a minute.

He then quotes "unambiguous" evidence from a report by Harvard economist Philippe Aghion: Multiple studies show that "greater inequality [of income] reduces the rate of growth."

Why? Well, think about it. How can we buy stuff if we make no money? And if we don't buy stuff, how will businesses survive? And if those businesses can't survive, how will manufacturers of what those businesses sell survive? And if manufacturers can't survive, they shut down. And we all know how that story ends.

But all that decline in growth and income inequality could be improved if only Big Corporations would stop sitting on their nearly $2 trillion in cash. As Smith points out, "instead of expanding production, they have been buying back company stock, rewarding shareholders while often imposing a wage freeze on workers."

Way to grow jobs, Big Corporations. America first! Create weak demand and you get a weak economy. And as a special bonus, you can blame President Obama! Weee!

It would be helpful if people like John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and their tea party colleagues would stop pushing for budget cuts, more tax cuts for the rich, government cuts, program cuts, deregulation, and that failure known as trickle-down economics. But, hey, they're just not into "helpful." Or you.

not into you smaller

Smith:

[S]pending is the engine that drives economic growth by pushing businesses to expand production, build new plants, buy new equipment, hire more workers.

He goes on to say that those in Washington better "shift their mindset" and get past all the gridlock so they can "set a new course." In other words, dump business as usual and start using their noggins, get real, and do what's right and productive instead of obstructing and stuffing their own pockets with donations. Get off your asses and rebuild this country already.

To paraphrase what Albert Einstein reportedly said at the dawn of the Atomic Age in 1945: You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.

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VIDEO: "Post-Citizens United, conservatives look at [union decline] & smell blood." Unions support Dems. 'Nuff said.

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chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

I recently posted about WI Gov. Scott Walker suggesting stripping police and firefighter union rights. Without unions, workers suffer. (We all suffer.) They suffer because they have no rights to speak of, they can't fight for what should be their rights effectively, and their employers have no problem stomping all over them. That was made clear here: “Dignity… That was the message of the signs [the restaurant workers] carried: I am a man, I am a woman.”

Please take a look at why even conservatives should appreciate what unions do, and have done, for this country: What a difference a union can make! And that appreciation should extend to the U.S. Postal Service: “It’s called the U.S. Postal Service because it is a service, not a corporation.”

With that in mind, this clip is a must-watch. The entire segment is below:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Melissa Harris-Perry:

All right. You got it? Unions not only gave us the weekends and health insurance.

Unions not only gave us the middle class.

Unions then gave that middle class a way to take part in the political process. In the significant part of the process that involves putting money into political campaigns.

And when union members get involved in campaigns, they tend to throw their considerable support behind Democrats. Not Republicans.

In other words, Republicans are trying to asphyxiate the Democratic party.

Here is the whole thing:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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