"I'm the Ocean" - Neil Young
- I finally got around to reading Kevin Drum's article in Mother Jones about organized labor's decline and its impact on politics, policy, and the character of the Democratic Party. It's really a remarkably good piece, laying out in concise fashion the negative consequences that this has had on the middle and working classes both in terms of having a political voice and with respect to the distribution of wealth in the country. I strongly recommend reading it. The piece also demonstrates Drum's political evolution in recent times from a pretty moderate guy to someone who has become increasingly to the left in economic matters. It's a heartening development. Sadly, the substance of the story is not one which generates a whole lot of optimism. Like me, Drum is deeply skeptical that labor in its present weakened state can ever achieve a level of density again that will approach those enjoyed in the early 1970s. How we will create a broad based movement geared to the economic interests of the great bulk of Americans in its absence remains a pretty vexing dilemma.
- One possible hopeful note for labor is the potential that the overreach by various GOP governors, especially Scott Walker, is going to have a galvanizing effect on union members. There is a sense that at least three of the members of the Wisconsin Senate are pretty vulnerable to recall efforts -- if the unions and their allies can pull this off it would actually put the Democrats back in charge of the Senate. If they can then take Walker out next year, it will undoubtedly strike fear in the hearts of a lot of Republicans. One of my law partners was out in Madison this weekend and said it was quite overwhelming -- the crowds, the energy, the focus were all very impressive. Evidently there is an upcoming election for the Supreme Court in Wisconsin and this too could possibly serve as a proxy battle for the parties. Certainly the grass roots energy being generated could make states like Wisconisn, Ohio, and Indiana (where there was a demonstration with several thousand building tradesmen last Thursday) much more likely to remain in the Democratic fold in the 2012 presidential election.
- Nicholas Krstof had an interesting column yesterday advocating for far greater pay for teachers. Obviously, this is not going to happen in the current environment. (I don't agree with the shots that Kristof takes at teachers unions by the way.) But this does seem to be an area where the vaunted market forces somehow do not seem to apply in the way that Republicans often argue they should. I would definitely have considered becoming a teacher (not sure I would have been any good at it) if it was the kind of job that was more greatly esteemed by the public and where a salary in the low six figures would have been attainable. The idea, however, of basically being villified while being paid less than a legal secretary just didn't hold much appeal to me as a young person. It is assumed that we need to pay bankers in the seven figures so that they we will attract the top talent to these positions -- but we are somehow thought able to attract top flight talent to teaching by paying people $48,000 a year, plus the psychic income associated with the joys of teaching our magnificent offspring.
- Share your thoughts on this, Japan, Libya, or anything else that on your minds.