This clip of Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail in Massachusetts is making the rounds today, and for good reason. First-time candidates don’t usually articulate a progressive economic message quite this well. (via Thers)
For those who can’t watch clips online, Warren, after explaining some of the reasons for the nation’s deep fiscal hole, pointed to a more sensible approach to economic policy in general. “I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,’” she said. “No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
There is more to the issue of class warfare than arguments about quantitive aspects of the economy such as wage disparity, workers having as much rights as their employer, health care and retirement plans. There is an underlying physiological issue. Let’s call it the John Galt Complex. many on the Right ( libertarian or conservative) have it. There are even chain e-mails about the lone entrepreneur who worked 28 hour days, lived off baloney sandwiches and slept on the office couch for years to get their business going. Having gotten the business going by climbing these Galtian hurdles they deserve workers who will work for less than a living wage, pay no taxes on that business and not be subject to any regulations no matter how much they waste and damage the commons. There is a deep lack of humility. Sure those people, and there are very few, that create mutli-billion dollar companies deserve credit, but they will always owe individuals who helped them and society for making their success possible.It is a popular misconception that taking the risks involved in starting a large company is ten times more difficult than taking a job – say laying cable, teaching elementary school or programming a web site. Committing to a job and becoming extremely competent requires commitment. It means you can’t float in and out of professions ( not a positive on resumes if done too often). Committing to a job and doing it well takes as much courage as being what we call being an entrepreneur. It is a different type of challenge, but the courage and risks involved are about the same – imagine committing to working for an automaker for twenty years, that is your adult skill set, and they automate your job. It time to down grade the idolatry of entrepreneurship to simple respect. The same simple respect we would have for someone who worked as a city water works technician for thirty years or a cop, or an accountant who kept a near flawless set of books or the guy who makes a lousy eight-fifty an hour to empty your grandfathers bed-pan three times a day. Robert Reich notes that this type of social contract where we acknowledge and value everyone’s contribution is not pie in the sky philosophical musings, it actually works,
The Great Prosperity
During three decades from 1947 to 1977, the nation implemented what might be called a basic bargain with American workers. Employers paid them enough to buy what they produced. Mass production and mass consumption proved perfect complements. Almost everyone who wanted a job could find one with good wages, or at least wages that were trending upward.
During these three decades everyone’s wages grew — not just those at or near the top.
Government enforced the basic bargain in several ways. It used Keynesian policy to achieve nearly full employment. It gave ordinary workers more bargaining power. It provided social insurance. And it expanded public investment. Consequently, the portion of total income that went to the middle class grew while the portion going to the top declined. But this was no zero-sum game. As the economy grew almost everyone came out ahead, including those at the top.
The pay of workers in the bottom fifth grew 116 percent over these years — faster than the pay of those in the top fifth (which rose 99 percent), and in the top 5 percent (86 percent).
Productivity also grew quickly. Labor productivity — average output per hour worked — doubled. So did median incomes. Expressed in 2007 dollars, the typical family’s income rose from about $25,000 to $55,000. The basic bargain was cinched.
The middle class had the means to buy, and their buying created new jobs. As the economy grew, the national debt shrank as a percentage of it.
A large segment of the American public – with message reinforcement from the right-wing media now believes in some fantasy-land version of the economy where some people who do very little work, have not had a real idea there entire lives ( they pay for or steal other people’s ideas) should be treated like feudal lords and the rest of the population their peasants.
The 6 Most Horrifying Lies The Food Industry is Feeding You. I am not sure that finding out food manufacturers put wood cellulose in your bread and cereal products is horrifying as much as disappointing. It has no nutritional value, but does add fiber to your diet. What’s odd is that if processed food makers used whole grains they would not need to do that. processed orange juice is something to avoid – produce labeling standards need to be revisited. It is amazing what processors get away with claiming. Buy some oranges and a juicer. Juicers are not that expensive. As usual the info about processed ground meat is horrifying or sickening or some adjective in that ball park. Though its like hotdogs, people don’t seem to care about it having assorted pig organs and parts, they just like the way it tastes. So some ammonia in their hamburger is just the price one pays for an addiction to fat.
an american ritual – How many liquor ads will you read today and how many commercials, Yet A Drug Arrest Every 19 Seconds, Says Latest US Data – “More than 1.6 million people were arrested for drug offenses in the US last year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report 2010, and more than half of them were for marijuana.”
Ann Coulter, as Troy Davis was awaiting execution, got on Twitter and wrote: “HOLD THE PICKLE, HOLD THE LETTUCE. FRYING KILLERS WON’T UPSET US,” as she hawked her column titled, “Cop Killer Is Media’s Latest Baby Seal,” – I would definitely put cop killers on my list of scumbags, but what was the hurry. Is there some use by date on state executions – hey we must do this today because tomorrow he becomes immortal. As usual Coulter does no research – more at the link. One of the luxuries of being a millionaire lazy know nothing mouth breather.
The Verve Pipe – The Freshmen (better than average sound quality).
Listening to this for the 100+ time I was thinking this video would be a good way to start a high school classroom discussion about responsibility and adulthood.