Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Economic Pie

Wages have grown, but they should be growing faster.  The reasons wages haven’t been grown faster over the last couple of decades is because some politicians, businesses, and laws have undermined the ability of workers to bargain for better deals.  Fifty years ago, more than one in four American workers belonged to a union.  Today, it’s about one in 10.  It’s not a coincidence that inequality grew, wages stagnated, and workers got a smaller share of the economic pie.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan actually said: “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”  Unfortunately, his trickle down economics hasn’t worked for middle-class workers.
Our government shouldn’t be changing our laws to make it harder for workers to organize.  We should be passing laws that make it easier for labor organizations to have a greater voice in the economy.  Some business leaders are doing right by their workers because its good for their workers, and also increases their bottom line.  When, Henry Ford began his assembly line, he payed $5 an hour, which was far beyond the prevailing wage.  Ford explained that he wanted his employees to be able to buy the products they make.
We need to do a better preparing workers for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of tomorrow.  Early childhood education works, and we should invest in better ways of doing it, especially since child care costs take a huge share of a family budget.  Making college more affordable and job training more available should be a priority.  One way to achieve that is to provide two years of community college free for every responsible student.  Mayors and governors are already addressing those issues across party lines.  Congress needs to do the same.
The reasons wages grew quickly in the ‘50s, ‘60s and the ‘70s is that our government put people to work building highways, bridges, and airports.  New frontiers in space and science, were explored.  Our government invested in research and development, which led to countless new discoveries and innovations.  We also passed GI Bills and educated a new generation of workers at public colleges where tuition was low.
A better economy requires Congress to make it easier for working Americans to save for retirement or bounce back from a lost job.  Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have the same benefits package or job security, that members of Congress have given themselves. 


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