Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Jessica Schemer and Lawrence Michel — As union membership has fallen, the top 10 percent have been getting a larger share of income

As union membership has fallen over the last few decades, the share of income going to the top 10 percent has steadily increased. Union membership fell to 11.1 percent in 2014, where it remained in 2015 (not shown in the figure). The share of income going to the top 10 percent, meanwhile, hit 47.2 percent in 2014—only slightly lower than 47.8 percent in 2012, the highest it has been since 1917 (the earliest year data are available). When union membership was at its peak (33.4 percent in 1945) the share of income going to the top 10 percent was only 32.6 percent.…
For "unions" substitute "labor bargaining power." In the view of neoclassical economics, trade unions that increase labor bargaining power are against the free market because they permit rent extraction to occur that would not occur if labor contracts were negotiated individually between "economic units," firms and individual workers being the units.

Economic Policy Institute
As union membership has fallen, the top 10 percent have been getting a larger share of income
Jessica Schemer and Lawrence Mishel

19 comments:

Bob said...

Unions are part of a free market.

Tom Hickey said...

Not according to neoclassical theory and neoliberal political theory based on economic liberalism. Free markets means competitive markets that implies no rent. Unions allow labor to increase its labor share by combining economic units (workers) against single economic units (firms).

I know that's a specious argument but that's what it is.

Bob said...

Freedom of association + incentives = unions. Even if freedom of association were removed, the incentive for workers to organize themselves into larger 'bargaining units' would remain.

Tom Hickey said...

Bob, you are confusing social and political liberalism with economic liberalism. They are opposed.

Bob said...

We're not going to dispose of one in order to have the other. Economic liberalism has to conform to the rights that people have, such as freedom of association. To oppose it is to replay the labour struggles of 75-100 years ago.

Tom Hickey said...

The concept of economic liberalism need to be changed in order to fit the concepts of social and political liberalism form the current state of affairs in which economic liberalism defines social and political liberalism.

Economic liberalism in its present form of neoliberalism is based on unregulated markets and privatization of public assets as the solution to all problems, social, political and economic.

Classical liberalism was grounded in classical economics. Neoliberalism is grounded in neoclassical economics, which assumes optimization and equilibrium. General equilibrium is based on all markets clearing endogenously — goods market, money market, and labors market. Marginalism implies that market-based meritocracy results in just deserts.

The reality is that the current concept of economic liberalism commoditizes labor and subjects it to the capital that hires stand controls it. There is a constant struggle between capital and labor for income and wealth share but owing to the superior power of capital, labor is almost always at a disadvantage.

Modern liberal representative democracies are not governments of,by and for the people, but rather are structured institutionally to establish privilege based on social class, political power and economic wealth. In addition, hierarchical government lends itself to state capture by elites.

Elections are mostly farce in which voters are given a choice between flavors of elites. This is illusion of choice to justify a system that is socially and politically illiberal based on the core assumption of economic liberalism, which is then assumed to be the standard of social and political liberalism as well.

Bob said...

Ideologues can believe what they will. Unlike 75-100 years ago, we have freedom of association which includes the right to form and join a union. Undoing those gains requires fascism.

The struggle between labour and capital necessitates the existence of unions, and/or a political arm of that movement. Those are the countervailing forms of power for labour. They won't go away until the contradictions that drive the struggle are resolved.

Unions and freedom of association are here to stay. Those are the standards to which 'economic liberalism' must conform. Unless, of course, that is a code word for fascism. When it comes to a wishy-washy terms like 'liberalism' nothing would surprise me.

Bob said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_association

Freedom of association is the right to join or leave groups of a person's own choosing, and for the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of members. It is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the United States Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law, including articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organization.

It will take a Mussolini to undo these rights.

Tom Hickey said...

Unless, of course, that is a code word for fascism. When it comes to a wishy-washy terms like 'liberalism' nothing would surprise me.

Bingo.

Tom Hickey said...

The attack on unions has been strong in the US.

Bob said...

Do you believe that Americans are living in a fascist state?

Bob said...

The attack on unions has been strong in the US.

It was, but then the union bureaucracy became complicit. Termites.

Tom Hickey said...

Do you believe that Americans are living in a fascist state?

The US Constitution was basically a fascist document by institutionalizing slavery. That was rectified legally through a civil war, but not institutionally or culturally,, and it is still a dominant social, political and economic force.

Now the US "middle class" is being colonized, civil liberties and constitutional rights have been suspended, total surveillance instituted, and a police state erected since 9/11 because terrorism.

I would call it soft fascism but there are plenty of Americans, mostly minorities, that would call it hard fascism.

Bob said...

We could ask someone who has lived under fascism to do a comparison.

Short of that, I would say that you are expressing a minority viewpoint. Most Americans would scoff at the idea that they live under soft/hard fascism. Amongst America's allies, I believe we'd find a similar viewpoint. Those who haven't been subject to American bombs falling on their heads believe that America stands for freedom and other positive values. For the most part, the West views itself as being affluent and civilized.

In no shape or form do Canadians live under fascism. Unfortunately we have a habit of emulating our southern neighbors.

Tom Hickey said...

Most Germans either wondered where the Jews are going or ignored it. Some wrote it off to emigration. Things are more obvious in the US and have been for years wrt to minorities for that how have taken the trouble to look and had the stomach for it.

BTW, back in the day, DFH's ("dirty fucking hippies"" were in almost the sort of in the boat as minorities. Or at least many felt the whip and it was used to intimidate the rest.

Now that some minorities are fighting back, more people are noticing it. But I think that most Americans and much of the world were surprised to see the militarized police mobilized against the protesters at Ferguson. If this is not hard fascism, what is?

Oh, and did I mention that the US leads in incarcerated per capital and they are mostly minorities. Bu many Americans seem to think that like the Jews in Germany they deserve it.

Then there is the US elite and their cronies and minions who are privileged from the laws that apply to everyone else.

Secret police monitoring everything. Check.

Police violence? What the footage from Occupy.

What is soft fascism? Intimidation. What is hard fascism. Repression. There's a fine line between the two, since for intimidation to work, at least a few have to be repressed.

I could go on.

Bob said...

You could go on, yet it wouldn't change public perception. From their safe neighborhoods and ivory towers, all appears to be well. But for a few malcontents grumbling as usual.

Your policing methods are different from the Canadian standpoint, but perhaps not from a Mexican's. What is assumed to be the norm in American culture is not at all the norm in other cultures. Pointing out the differences does not appear to change people's perspectives.

Tom Hickey said...

Have ever been at a protest where you have been at the pointy end of a rifle or bayonet. Been teargassed (now pepper sprayed). Been beaten with a baton or sapper? Had people illegally detained en masse. Had people shot and killed. I witnessed all of this personally, other than the last.

That all happened in the Sixties and Seventies in the US, and again during Occupy. But the game is very different now with mass surveillance since now they are taking names and that hidden record will follow people throughout their lives.

I was recently reading a new story that about 20% of people using communications in the US consciously self-censor to protect themselves from surveillance, and the the market for encryption is growing by leaps and bounds. The government is reacting and trying to either ban encryption or require a backdoor.

IF this is not incipient fascism, what is?

Bob said...

Perhaps the difference is whether a country is at war, and how many men are being conscripted to fight in it. Wars fought by an all-volunteer army don't have the same impact on the public consciousness. A defensive war also affects the population differently than one fought far away.

In the back of our minds we are aware that when push comes to shove, the legal niceties that define civil society and democracy will be discarded in favor of brutish methods. The state, its institutions and its functionaries can pretend to be genteel during peacetime and prosperity. But we know subconsciously that this is just a cover.

Observe in France how "consent of the governed" has mutated to "held hostage by a minority" in order to justify police repression. The fascist mindset is willing to dispense with any pretense.

Tom Hickey said...

This is a difference between the US and both Russia and China. The US has a professional military that isolates the population from military duty. Russians ad Chinese realize that they face an existential threat to their civilizations that everyone is deeply involved it.

The US apparently thinks that like Iraqis with flowers, the Russian and Chinese people are just waiting for America to liberate them.

This won't end well for the US.