That reference to labor may have struck some of you as odd or out of the blue. It came to my mind because I've been reading a lot lately about the labor movement. Why?
Some of my reasons are summarized in this article by Henry Blodget in the Business Insider, "I've Always Hated The Idea Of Labor Unions, But It May Be Time To Reconsider".
After noting many of the (very legitimate) problems with labor unions, Blodget brings to our attention a few trends, trends that I'm pretty concerned about.
First, income disparity--the separation between the proverbial 99% and the 1%--is the greatest it has been in America since the Great Depression. (To explore more about these trends you can examine these charts in a separate article by Blodget.)
Second, corporate profits are at an all time high.
Third, wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low.
Fourth and finally, Blodget shares this chart from the EPI showing the increasing income disparity in America against the decline in union membership:
Now, of course, correlation does not equal causation. But the problems we are facing--historic levels of income inequality and decreased wages--are real and are creating a sociologically and politically volatile and unsustainable situation. Class warfare isn't a phantom being ginned up by President Obama. It's an economic reality getting worse every year. And it's going to keep getting worse until something--God knows what--hits the fan.
(And all that is to say nothing about the collision course we are on between capitalism and the finite resources of the environment.)
At this moment I am unsure about if the labor movement, as it has done in the past, has the resources that can help with the crises we are facing. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. The labor movement was pretty damn corrupt.
And yet, the labor movement has been the only force outside of the government in American history that has successfully challenged and chastened the corporate profit motive.
The point being, if the government isn't the solution to these problems then perhaps we should be looking toward the people.