Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ending the Great Recession

Robert Reich is usually on the right track, and he is again: wage or wealth inequality is clearly the festering sore at ground zero of the current Great Recession. And taking costs off the other end of the see-saw, through earned income tax credit or health insurance reform or free education, clearly help workers. (... when the health reform is fixed.) Splitting the difference when workers are forced to shift down a pay grade would help, too.

Not sure why Reich omits the speculation tax (see also this), but on another point maybe he's joining the trigger happy crowd ready to declare the Employee Free Choice Act* dead and that's too bad. Long term, as Reich knows, there will be no economic recovery without strengthening workers' rights -- and the most important right is the right to organize, which we no longer fully have. The Employee Free Choice Act is going to have to come back, and keep coming back.

Of course that's true of worker control, and sindicalism, social revolution, and so on, but there are also specific short-term reforms that need to stay in the sunshine. Of course we always have to remember to say out loud that single-payer healthcare is a necessary but not sufficient condition for social & economic justice, and so on.

The bottom line is, the rich have to be relieved of some of the spoils they've managed to accrue by hook and by crook over generations. Wealth taxes. Speculation taxes. Progressive income taxes. Industrial nationalization. We can debate and argue over which is best -- and we should -- but without one or more of these taking a big bite out of the mountain of loot the rich are sitting on, the working class will never solve any of our deep-seated economic problems.

They've been robbing us of land, wages, taxes, and on and on, and it's time they made some restitution.

But we have to remember that that's not the end. The "Peace Dividend" if nothing else proved that freeing up the money does not guarantee that we get it, by any stretch of the imagination. Part of the package has to always be spending the money on our priorities: health, education, welfare, rights at work. Their priorities get plenty of play.

[*This article gives Emanuel and the White House too much credit. In fact, just after Obama became "President-Elect" Emanuel was already signaling deep doubts in answer reporters' questions about the incoming Administration's presumed support for EFCA - despite what other aides said later. In fact, Emanuel laughed off EFCA questions, implying that the question was loaded, as if support were already thin ice. My reading of the tea leaves is this Administration never intended to help EFCA in any way, shape or form. Shame on them.]

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