Thursday, February 24, 2011

Canyons and Madison

Back in Concow. I took the dogs down the canyon today. It isn't the Grand Canyon, nor the Glen. It has no fancy name. Not many go down there. But someone has to make the trip once and awhile; might as well be me. And the dogs.

Grady, one of the neighbor's dogs, came along with us today. Most days either Grady, or Teddy, will join us on these expeditions. Nice to have the company.

A word about Madison and the unions. I earn a very livable wage because nursing in California has strong unions. Although the facility I work at is non-union, they still need to compete with both private sector and public sector unions. That elevates the wages, and I reap the rewards.

This nationwide attempt to break unions (which are pretty much on their last gasp) is the logical conclusion of a process that began in the mid-70's. When corporations decided that making products overseas elevated their profit margins (short term) by dramatically lowering labor costs: that was part one. We all watched the jobs move overseas. The factory where my mother worked for thirty years moved to Mexico. Union membership in the private sector took a nosedive over the last thirty years. Add to that a lowering of the tax rate for the very rich--and now we end up with a two tier society. The Haves (who are doing very well, thank you) and the Have Nots. A new Plutocracy. Mother Jones illustrates just how bad this inequality is.

The only places left with unions are the public sector, a few fossil factory unions and certain service industries where you can't ship the jobs overseas. This attempt at breaking up the public sector unions will only accelerate this unjust, inequitable transfer of wealth to the top one or two percent of the population.

Unequal societies don't do very well. An interesting book: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett makes a powerful argument for the restoration of some semblance of income equality to our political landscape. If you don't want to read the book, the link will take you to an excellent review of the book by the London Guardian.

So these brave people in Wisconsin are fighting for all of us. Does this slide to inequality end in Wisconsin? Or is it the last gasp of a labor tradition that has benefited my family---and in fact, all of us who work for a living?

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on inequality. In a sense, the Reagan Revolution has come home to roost. Say good bye to the Progressive Era which began with President McKinley.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Allan,
After arguing virtually with wisconsin tea party walker supporters this is just the tonic I need. I raise a wee dram of crown royal to you. kia kaha

Mary said...

Beautiful. Thanks for the book recommendation!