Two Roads Out of Recession

shovel ready jobsRecent events in Washington, D.C. should provoke fear and outrage in the average American worker. As the jobs recession staggers on, politicians and labor leaders alike seem bizarrely distanced from reality, unable to advance any ideas that remotely correspond to the basic demands of those tens of millions of unemployed, under-employed, or poorly paid workers.

Instead, what we get is President Obama’s recent groveling to the corporate-dominated Chamber of Commerce, pleading with them to hire workers. The President’s recent speech to the Chamber implied many dangers, which neither labor federation– AFL-CIO and Change to Win — bothered to point out. In fact, the AFL-CIO applauded sections of the speech, rather than condemning its sinister motives. If labor unions align themselves with the President’s and the Chamber’s pro-corporate path out of the recession, a workers’ road to recovery will be bypassed.

What is the corporate route out of recession?  Economist Robert Reich explains:

“[The Chamber of Commerce] has a deep, abiding belief in cutting taxes on the wealthy, eroding regulations that constrain Wall Street, cutting back on rules that promote worker health and safety, getting rid of the minimum wage… fighting unions, cutting back Medicare and Social Security, reducing or eliminating corporate taxes, and, in general, taking the nation back to the days before the New Deal.” (February 8, 2011).

This is the group that Obama insists that it’s possible to “work together” with to create jobs. Under Obama’s vision, these pro-corporate policies will make Corporate America the best competitor on the global market, a goal he seems nearly fanatical about.

The President wrongly believes that, by giving in to the above corporate policies, big business will hire workers — at low wages — out of the kindness of their own hearts, as if morality has ever played any role in the art of profit-chasing.

Here’s what Paul Krugman of The New York Times has to say about focusing U.S. economic policy around making U.S. corporations more competitive:

“…isn’t it at least somewhat useful to think of our nation as if it were America Inc., competing in the global marketplace? No.  Consider: A corporate leader who increases profits by slashing his work force is thought to be successful. Well, that’s more or less what has happened in America recently: employment is way down, but profits are hitting new records. Who, exactly, considers this economic success?” (January 23, 2011).

Unfortunately, U.S. labor leaders have not yet drawn the same, correct conclusions as a moderate liberal like Krugman. Worse yet, The AFL-CIO has worked, unforgivably, to bolster the Chamber of Commerce’s credibility, forming a “partnership” with these corporate snakes to “rebuild America’s infrastructure.” The Chamber’s President, Tom Donahue, was quick to take advantage of this positive press, which inevitably aims to fool workers into thinking their enemies are their friends:

“With the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO standing together to support job creation, we hope that Democrats and Republicans in Congress will also join together to build America’s infrastructure.”

Published by the LA Progressive on February 15, 2011
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About Shamus Cooke

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com