Over at the LA Times, David Lazarus asks "Does organized labor have a future?" He notes that standards of living like job security, healthcare, and retirement funds have never been so uncertain since the Great Depression. But the solution to these problems ultimately won't be found in court battles over labor contracts or more government regulations on employers. If organized labor wants a better future and higher standards of living for workers, it should fight for less, not more government.
Standards of living for workers certainly have decreased in the US over the last few decades. At one time in America, a worker with only a high school education or even less could get a stable job and support a family on a single income. Robust job opportunities and strong consumer purchasing power are obviously a boon to laborers. But today, unemployment, layoffs, and price inflation have destroyed the American Dream for laborers in the United States.
The reason for this lies in the ever-accelerating trend of economic central planning by the federal technocracy, planning that usually involves laws and policies that are unsurprisingly and unambiguously anti-labor. It's worth pondering that any Occupy protester could tell you that the regime in Washington is heavily controlled by the entrenched special interests of large corporations. Why then, should they want the federal government to have more power instead of less, more power that it would inevitably use to the benefit of the large corporations that pull its strings?
If organized labor is to have a future in the country, indeed if labor itself and America's shrinking middle class are to have a future in this country, organized labor absolutely must fight for an end to the "military-monetary" complex that characterizes the Washington regime's primary interest, agenda, and concern. Lazarus leads his LA Times piece with a story about American Airlines putting the squeeze on its labor force to cut costs.
The article reports:
"American Airlines says sky-high fuel costs and hefty payrolls have put too great a strain on operations. The carrier's parent company, AMR, says it needs to slash $1.25 billion in labor costs to remain operational."
But American Airlines is wrong. It doesn't need to slash $1.25 billion in labor costs to remain operational; it needs to slash $1.25 billion in costs, any costs, to remain operational. The math still works and the bottom line will remain the same regardless of where the savings are made. Rising prices as a result of dollar inflation are always passed on by corporations to their consumers (in the form of yet higher prices) and to their employees (in the form of layoffs). Getting prices under control should be the number one agenda of a truly pro-labor movement, but keeping prices sky high is the agenda of the government in Washington.
Since 1913, when the Federal Reserve System was created by an act of Congress, the dollar has lost over 90% of its value-- of its purchasing power. The only reason it hasn't lost even more is its use as the world's reserve currency for the international trade of global commodities like oil, and that kind of monetary hegemony has come at the price of an expansive (and expensive) military hegemony to threaten and bully any country that dares to put a crack in the foundation of the dollar's reserve currency status by trading in another currency, and to set up in its place, a regime friendly to central banking, fiat currency, and US dollar hegemony.
This is how economic and foreign policy all come together. They are not separate issues, but strongly interrelated in the global landscape today. The US central bank continues to endlessly create dollars to pay for an aggressive, interventionist military policy that in turn exists to create artificial demand for those same dollars to keep them valuable so the central bank can keep printing them. Private military contractors profit to the tune of billions of dollars, and the big nationally-chartered banks on Wall Street that own the Federal Reserve and profit from its low-interest loans likewise profit by the billion.
It's not an intentional conspiracy, but an unfortunate conglomeration of the very worst motives and incentives, of greed, decadence, opportunism, and unscrupulousness. Big businesses profit from the military-monetary racket, but it is the number one cause of the continually lower standards of living that has David Lazarus worried for the future of America's labor force.
Constant money creation by the central bank and the subsequent dollar devaluation is the reason for the price inflation that has American Airlines scrambling to cut costs. It's also the reason why American laborers get the feeling they're working harder and harder only to be able to afford less and less. If robust job opportunities and strong consumer purchasing power are a boon to laborers, remember that inflation destroys job opportunities by squeezing the operating budgets of employers and destroying the value of the productive capital that creates jobs in the first place; and remember that inflation destroys consumer purchasing power by raising the costs of living.
Federal public policy can be summed up most succinctly as trillions of dollars in bailouts, loans, subsidies, and credits for big banks and other corporations, and trillions more for a foreign policy of military adventurism that protects, perpetuates, and profits from this system. There's no room in that vision of America for labor. There's no need for the American laborer if America's primary exports are dollars and war.
A 21st-century organized labor movement will only succeed if it sees the big picture and joins a growing majority of Americans disillusioned by the machinations of the establishment and determined to take America back from the corporate special interests that seem to govern it. The answer then, is less, not more government. The answer is to acknowledge that for the last century, the government in Washington has been the number one enemy of the American laborer. Its central planning has destroyed our productive economy and replaced it with a military-financial complex.
It's time to save and produce, not print and spend. It's time to make stuff, not war. No more open-ended nation building exercises. No more bailouts for irresponsible Wall Street banks. No more trillion dollar deficits that strangle economic growth. No more dollar devaluation and quantitative easing. No more funneling money from productive, job-creating sectors of the economy to whomever lobbied for it most successfully and calling that a "stimulus" program.
The cry of the 21st century labor movement must be: We want less!