Everybody’s Scratching Somebody’s Back

Some of the message coming from various Republicans lately is that the public employee unions give the Democratic Party an edge since the Democrats are supposedly happy to give the unions whatever they want and then the unions provide the dollars and the votes to elect the Democrats.  A fine circle of back scratching.

In the first place, if this was such an effective dynamic, how did a Republican get elected to the Wisconsin governorship?  Why are there any Republican office holders anywhere?  And, why is it that

over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits.

(Yes, I just used that a couple of posts previously…)

I suppose it is all hunky dory that big business and the wealthy give loads of cash to Republicans who vote to give them tax deductions and tax cuts, and to ease the regulatory burden.   It is so much easier to make money when one is free to pollute the environment,  treat employees as expendable assets, and customers as people to swindle.


The Class War

What?  America is a classless society?  Ideally, yes.  In reality, no.

Sure, in America anyone is able to climb the social class ladder through hard work, initiative, etc., etc.   But this is not as true as some would have you believe.

Generally, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  The latest recession is telling.   Lots of bailouts for the wealthy who are today again receiving their customary fat bonus checks.  How are you doing?

The Republicans take the House of Representatives and, under the guise of balancing the budget, attempt to slash spending that benefits the lower and middle income population.   Spending stimulus bills are now verboten (though tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, are always welcome), so the states cannot receive any extra support to balance their budgets from the feds.

The Republicans in the states use the (supposed) state budget crises to destroy public employee unions.  Despite the fact that

over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits.

I do not have the numbers, but I would bet that the private sector employees have not exactly done all that great over the past fifteen years.   Based on the Winners Take All graphs (scroll down just a bit) at Mother Jones, it doesn’t look too good.

James Taranto opines at The Wall Street Journal:

Actual middle-class Americans don’t feel put upon by “corporate power” or “the business community,” because by and large, they own the means of production: They run businesses; they hold shares in corporations through their investment and retirement accounts.

I would love to see the polling on that.

I actually qualify as someone who holds shares in corporations through a retirement account.  Oddly, I do find myself put upon by corporate power.   My experience is that big business will screw me over every chance it gets.

But I digress.  Membership in unions has dropped a lot over the past few decades.  In 1977 26.9% of non-agricultural workers were covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  In 2009, this number is 13.7%.

And over the past few decades, inequality has increased.  Note that the share of income after taxes has declined for the bottom 80%.

Yes, the rich have done very well for themselves over the past few decades.  But it is not enough it would seem.  Class war has been declared by the 20% against the 80%.  It is a sad fact that many of the 80% are supporting the 20% in the war.