Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are Unions Necessary?

Unions are necessary, or rather, what is necessary is an institution, or institutions, powerful enough to balance the concentrated powers of capital, in order to create a robust economy, and a robust democracy.

In the absence of this power, capital unchecked accumulates and concentrates, to the detriment of the economy and society.  As capital concentrates, the growth of the buying power of labor, (and we see with the austerian policies promoted by the Right, government, also) first slows, then stops, then starts to decline.  And we are starting to enter the period of decline, after years of stagnant income by labor.  Capital is destroying its market, and with it, opportunity for continued profit, and the incentive to invest. This leads to a gradual decapitalization of the economy, although this will first be concealed by investment bubbles in enterprises which do not produce real goods and services. That is, the economy will continue to appear to grow, even while in real terms, in terms of industry and infrastructure, it actually declines.

Government itself, and certainly after Citizens United, is not strong enough to provide this countervailing power.   Indeed, its policies show it has clearly become the captive of capital, and so aggravates the already mal-distribution of power.

So this countervailing power once, inadequately perhaps, partly provided by unions, but now largely absent, is necessary even for the survival of capital. 

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