THE BLOG
03/11/2011 01:16 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The End of Middle Class Complacency

On October 30th of 2010, I wrote "A Spanking New GOP House Majority" which was published here on Huffington Post. Many could see the GOP/Tea Party sweep coming and many bloggers, myself included, argued relentlessly for the progressive community to focus more on what the Republicans will do if they gain power than on disappointments in what Obama had failed to do in his first two years. Rereading my post of October, you may find it prophetic. But what I failed to predict was something even larger and more history shaking than a misbehaving U.S. House of Representatives. That shattering something was a revolt of State governments in every red constituency and all those that might even possibly be called purple.

We now have 28 State Attorneys General suing the Federal Government over the Constitutionality of The Affordable Care Act of 2010. We have 16 States trying to overturn the rights of public employee unions to collectively bargain, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Idaho are just the egregious ones in the news. These union busting measures combine with measures to undermine and eventually replace public education and local union contracting in myriad ways.

In Michigan, SB 153 threatens to replace elected officials, county and city governments and school districts that fail to toe the line of draconian austerity handed down from the Republican dominated legislature. In Florida they are they are just defunding education and handing the savings out as tax cuts. States are implementing their own immigration policy and bans on gay marriage and the banning rule of Sharia Law of all things. In Virginia, an amendment to the state constitution proposes to declare that state law supersede federal law. If you not are reminded of the emergence of the Confederacy, you have no sense of history.

Something not too well disguised and unprecedented is happening. States are using budget problems caused by the Republican Great Recession to camouflage and sneak through legislation overturning decades old settled law on things totally unrelated to budget crises. The barrage of astonishingly recidivist bills was launched without notice, without campaigning on it, with no public hint of it, and launched simultaneously and summarily in swing states. It certainly appears to be coordinated to be pushed through as one might design a coup d'Etat, a quick seizure of power and disarmament of the opposition. In this design, union busting is the weapon of choice and public employees and public education are the primary targets. The primary objective is to cut off labor union funding of the Democratic, or any other progressive seeming, party. Gone unchallenged, it will work, and we will no longer have a two party system. We will have a one party system. We will have the party of the rich who seem never too rich to want more personal wealth.

Well, elections have consequences.

In the memory of most living Americans, unions and labor law walked hand in hand, one causative of the advancement of the other. Nearly all Americans are protected from egregious labor oppressions on the part of business by the fortifications of rights built by labor unions. We, left and right alike, know that should the labor unions lose the right of collective bargaining they will be deprived of the product from which they raise money. If unions lose the power to raise money, they lose the power to influence law, the making of it and the retention of it. Politics is like that now, and the law that regularizes the expectations of employee and employer alike will be overturned as easily as a pimp makes a hooker hand over her pay for a trick.

Republicans may have made a mistake though. Elected on the promise that they could fix the economy when Obama couldn't, they have done nothing and propose nothing for the economy. They may be on the verge of tipping it into a second Great Depression in fact. They have not only done nothing to help, they are now obviously implementing plans at both the federal and state levels that will do significant harm to the economy and to individual workers whether they be union members or not. Union busting by state governments has put this in the sharpest focus it has been in since unions first won a National Labor Relations Board. Americans are responding, union and non union. It's being heralded as the new People's Party. It fits.

The American worker has been complacent. Unlike their bosses who want ever larger profits and personal wealth, union members, and the work force that lived under the umbrella of their former activism, want only to make a decent living with the decent hours and benefit's the unions won for us all. Unions and labor had no grand ambition of wealth. They acquiesced to the ever growing demands of management for productivity increases and held their tongues for decades now. The American Dream would work out if they could only hold out, clock in, do the job and retrain, take a cut, take a layoff and keep on keeping on. It could never get really bad, better was just around the corner because it always had been, or at least it could be.

Americans became complacent in the idea that their politicians would make things right, if only they kept throwing the bums out and replacing them, with new bums.

There's really only one thing you need to know about politicians. If they're in the pockets of the rich they put the screws on the workers and if they're in the pockets of workers they put the screws on the rich. That is the essential dynamic of a democracy with a capitalist economy. When one side is up the other feels down. Balance could be achieved in this if it weren't for the stock market. In order for senior management of a corporation to make their huge paychecks and bonuses, they have to increase profits every quarter after every quarter to make their stock prices go up.

So whatever the workforce gives, the CEO takes and wants more next quarter. It perennially pushes the system into imbalance. It's just a stone fact of capitalism. The capitalists CEO needs more profit so he/she buys politicians to make law that makes policy changes to make their profits higher. Wages are the main expense of every corporation, so the easiest way to make profits go up is for wages to go down. Bust the unions and force adoption of the fallacious "right to work", ship jobs off shore, and wages go down. Simple as pie, and mindfuckingly stupid.

As wages go down, markets for goods and services tank. It becomes a race to see who can beat the other CEO in lowering wages until wages are so low that there are no markets for anything but food, water, heat, some sticks and roofing tin. This is the inescapable logical conclusion of politics weighted in favor of business instead of labor. It's the perfect recipe for total global poverty, here, China, India and everywhere. The emerging markets will never emerge because no CEO can afford to let them, or he/she will lose out on their bonus/pay.

It is completely insane. It unfolds as the shock doctrine reality before your eyes as state and federal legislators put the screws to labor and the political power they wield. It's so obvious now it has awoken the long complacent Reagan Democrats that found some value in tax cuts. Tax cuts are splendid if you have a job. But when your pay cut more that equals your tax cut, even Joe NASCAR Sixpack can figure it out.

In the end, this country and the very concept of democracy are on the line. The shortsighted greed of a few thousand well heeled businessmen would run it all into the ground for their personal wealth, not realizing that the chaos that will ensue will be the alchemist's nightmare formula that turns their gold to ashes.

A rising is long overdue. It had to come from a final Republican overreach and it has. Elections have consequences.

mondaymorningeconomist.com