Saturday, May 19, 2012

Union officialdom: If it fails, try it again.

Apart from spending some half billion dollars in their effort to keep the lesser evil party in power this election cycle, the heads of organized Labor have other militant actions in their arsenal.  They lobby shareholders of the corporations as part of their plan to democratize these institutions and appeal to the politicians of the 1% to increase taxes on them, in other words, on themselves.

Appealing to rich people to be nicer to workers and the poor is safer than mobilizing workers to act in our own behalf forcing concessions from the capitalist class; a victory for workers would inspire us and as we realize our own strength, more demands and organization would follow. This puts the Union officialdom in an uncomfortable position threatening the relationship they have built over decades with the Democrats and that section of the capitalist class this party represents. Labor peace and 5 year contracts that keep the membership at bay are an integral part of this relationship. We don't need the folks that pay the dues interfering with that.

We see this strategy all the time. Proof of its success the strategists atop the AFL-CIO might argue is that Warren Buffet and other billionaires are pleading with the government to increase their taxes. It's just plain unfair that a secretary pays higher taxes than Warren.  Sure, a worker is not as smart as Warren Buffet or Mark Zuckerberg otherwise we would have accumulated $60 billion, too wouldn't we?  We'd all be billionaires in a lovely world.  After all, it's all out there, all you have to do is work hard and use your noggin. Seriously though, Warren Buffet is simply making a smart decision as he clearly understands the mood in society and the dangers if they continue to push too hard.

Strikes aimed at stopping production have all but disappeared as these work stoppages are aimed at being 24 hour hour protests so as not to offend or threaten in any way the Union hierarchy's relationship with the Democratic Party.  The Hotel and Restaurant workers Union in a recent strike here in the SF Bay Area laid tape down on the sidewalk to ensure the scabs entering hotels during a strike/lockout could enter without impediment. The leadership entered in to this agreement with the hotel bosses and the city, meaning the police.  The general public must not be affected in any way by a Labor dispute, including benefiting from one that doesn't affect them directly.

Another dispute at a fancy hotel went on for years as rallies and protests were aimed at convincing millionaires to do the right thing and not stay there (The Lafayette Hotel in Lafayette California) . There has been no attempt to reflect on this failed strategy of course and it is being repeated at a local country club where the officialdom with the help of some of their left wing cheerleaders have recruited a section of the Occupy movement to convince rich folks to do the moral thing and support workers.

These appeals to the good nature of the wealthy are also not getting much of a response from the shareholding community.  There is the carried interest issue that benefits private equity capitalists which may well be a source of revenue as it puts one section of the capitalist class at a disadvantage in the rapacious scramble for profits that they all engage in at our expense. It is a dispute between the 1% over the plunder with one section of them having an unfair tax advantage, a loophole another section wants to close.

The Change to Win Coalition's efforts to force the sickness industrial complex insurer Wellstone to disclose who or what organization it gives money to by lobbying shareholders has hit a wall. Two Wellstone board members the CTW lobbied shareholders to vote against received just about as much support as those the Union left alone. Another Wellstone proposal the Unions support that would have increased disclosure of political contributions by the company was voted down by 84% of shareholders.  The 1%'s propaganda machine touts the fact that anyone can hold shares in these corporations which is true, but it is the Kirk Kerkorians, Warren Buffets and Carl Icahns that have controlling interests.  When we advocate the taking in to public ownership under workers control and management the commanding heights of the economy without compensation, we do not include the savings of retirees, individual workers or small mom and pop businesses.  Compensation based on proven need is the key.

There is no economic democracy as the "people" are not privy to business dealings.  This is what disclosure is all about, more importantly, we don't control the production process and the allocation of capital in society.  We see the tip of their iceberg.  The objection to any scrutiny in this climate is due to the extreme anger at the rich and Wall Street that exists in US society.  The 1%, through their control of the state machinery and politics receive massive assistance, real welfare.  The so-called vibrant private sector is not so vibrant when we take government subsidies of one type or another out of the picture.  The private equity lords have had a sumptuous feast and profits are good due to the favorable tax codes that their representatives in Congress write up. Corporate debt is 100% deductible and due to the mood in society there is an attempt through a bi-partisan Senate bill to drop this down to 75%; they are feeling the heat and that's without the major social upheavals that are likely in the future. Add to this, the trillions in offshore accounts and we have a simple explanation as to why private enterprise looks good, it's publicly funded.

Adam Smith, the British economist whose book, The Wealth of Nations, is the capitalist's bible wrote: "Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

He also wrote: "Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate differences between masters and their workmen, its counselors are always the masters."

He wasn't wrong about that.

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