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There’s no way we can prevail against corporations or huge fortunes. Greed will consume everything and will certainly show no regard for our right to pursue happiness since it would mean they have less. Our interests can receive no consideration with the gravity of the black hole of greed pulling against them.

There are really only two options and both require that we act collectively. We elect a government to represent our interests and act in a general way to see that our will be done. Or, we organize among ourselves in numbers that can bring leverage to bear on a given situation.

We’ve tried both of those methods and both have been overcome by greed and wealth. As a result, in the richest and most powerful nation in the world, the majority of us are left out, as if we’re not the real source of all the wealth. And we’ll continue to be until we assert our position of power as the real creators of wealth over the mere accumulators of the wealth we generate.

In our modern nation, it’s set up so that to reach enough people to be elected into government you need money - and a lot of it in most cases. That’s a built in lever that wealth can use to corrupt and control our government. Wealth and capital don’t share any of the interests of working people. No wealthy person can relate to or represent the interests of working people. (Nor can well to do people who think they’re wealthy) For the time being this condition rules out government, for whatever good it does do, as a true weight in favor of the people against the interests of wealth and profit.

The only option left to us is to organize collectively. But it needs to be done in new ways, not in the old ways of the unions we were allowed to have. And not necessarily just in the work context.

More universal movements along the lines of OWS can apply leverage in social and political situations as we saw. (And the “1%” definitely fears collective action!) OWS threatened to cut through the illusions of difference constructed to keep us fussing among ourselves instead of focusing on the folks with the whips. The more people realize we’re all in a big boat getting screwed together, and see who’s doing the screwing, the more likely they are to consider resistance. If the powers that be crack down on it, that means we need MORE OF THAT.

Still, the biggest leverage is labor. Walmart wouldn't have shit if their workers didn't work. They know it. Neither would GE, or Koch Industries or McDonalds. Many jobs have been moved away from our country to begin with. They’re allowed to sell their products here just the same without any penalty. Still, wealth and capital (and the government they own) work to curtail labor organization. Capital holds power over labor and dictates the terms. That is ass backwards and it’s enforced with coercion. What’s more, the unions have ceased to be effective representation, and, I believe, at least in their current form, may as well be discarded.

Workers’ collectives at all levels of labor might be more of a way to go, organized also into a collective of collectives. We need the ability to stage national strikes and boycotts that people participate in because they understand they've got a stake. Eventually these collectives could spawn domestic manufacturing cooperatives and “buy local” efforts could reduce the profitability of off shoring production. Key labor forces, such as transportation, (I’m amazed how much airline pilots have been kicked around for the last 30 years without shutting it all down!) maintenance, and service workers need to assert their leverage and withhold their labor to get a better deal. Until we build - or take back – some degree of worker power, the scales will never tilt in our favor, or even balance.

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Comment Preferences

  •  workers have all the muscle (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim Tietz, kevinpdx, hnichols, EthrDemon

    they just need to use it

    when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

    by bunsk on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:44:26 AM PST

  •  Another big lever: spending (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bunsk

    I agree with you whole-heartedly: we need to organize as citizens, voters, and workers

    Still, the biggest leverage is labor. Walmart wouldn't have shit if their workers didn't work. They know it. Neither would GE, or Koch Industries or McDonalds.
    This is true about labor: it is a big lever.  But there is another, arguably bigger lever we the 99% have over the wealthy and corporations: our spending habits.

    In 2008, the majority of Americans reduced their spending.  Businesses howled in pain; they were desparate to get us to spend more.  They still are.  And business are horribly fearful we will pass them by with our spending.

    Now imagine what we could achieve by using our power as both workers and consumers.  We could even insist that the wealthy and corporations could no longer buy the laws they want

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:23:00 PM PST

  •  The equalizer is the internet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bunsk

    OWS, Arab Spring, and the rest of the world protests showed that mass protest could be quickly developed through the power of social networks that could threaten the entrenched power structures.

    Key to the networks is the reliance on trust.  By using similar tools, we can build new corporate structures that a) play by all the current rules of the game, b) out-compete their investor-held cousins though the use of social networks, and c) change the focus from stockholder to stakeholder (classic benefit corp language).  In particular, to benefit a larger cross-section of the population and effect a redistribution of wealth more broadly.

    This whole social media landscape is changing everything we know about how markets operate.  My kids are digital natives and the role of the social net in forming their opinions and informing their decisions is fascinating to watch.  The social networking arena is wide-open for innovative company/product/customer/worker hybrid structures to evolve and displace classic corporate structures.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by Jim Tietz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:24:32 PM PST

    •  the equalizer is collective action (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim Tietz

      however you facilitate it

      when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

      by bunsk on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:30:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed, and... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bunsk

        the multiplying effect of the internet by extending an individual's reach beyond their geographic local allows access to like-minded people as never before.  It's one of the key reasons to stay active in support of internet openness initiatives -- it's one of the remaining threats to large-scale corporatist control.  It's the tool that effectively breached their control of the media.

        But then, I'm probably preaching to the choir around here.

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by Jim Tietz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:46:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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