A proposal for Volunteer Organizing Committees in Central Labor Councils.

When unemployment is low and discontent is high, it’s time to organize. The most natural place for effective organizing committees is within Central Labor Councils. Let’s form one here!

org_disorg

Why?

Single-purpose ad hoc committees can win immediate goals. A great example is labor’s effort in turning back the Missouri “Right to Scab” law on August 7, 2018. See President Trumka’s message at:

https://www.facebook.com/TexasAFLCIO/videos/10156423158446153/

But the only way to keep winning is to have a long-term plan, and that means strengthening our progressive organizations, especially our unions, through organizing.

org_organize2

How?

Methods of organizing are on the Dallas AFL-CIO web site. Unfortunately, the site has been changed around so that the page is almost impossible to find without the actual address:

https://www.texasaflcio.org/dallas/get-organized/labor-will-help-you-organize

Where?

The nerve center of labor is the Central Labor Council, and that is where face-to-face meetings need to happen. At the same time, most information is exchanged over the internet today; consequently fewer physical meetings are necessary. Using the internet, it is possible to conveniently share information across long distances.

When?

ASAP

Who?

Unions are no longer constrained to single employers or workplaces. Many unions have associate membership available. The AFL-CIO has a program to allow people to share our political program by joining on-line. More and more, working people’s goals are being accomplished through coalitions with community groups, churches, civil rights organizations, and environmentalists. Our committees can think beyond traditional union organizing drives.

The goal of organizing is not limited to signing up new union members. We can also sign up members for our allies. Furthermore, signing a card is only the beginning of a process of organizing. Signed-up members need to be drawn toward higher levels of participation.

What?

A Central Labor Council Volunteer Organizing Committee can promote the progressive movement. We can gather organizing leads. We can educate and motivate unions and other organizations. Nothing can stop us from organizing. If we organize, nothing can stop us at all!

–Gene Lantz

I am on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

Book Review:

Galbraith, James K “The End of Normal. The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth.” Simon & Schuster, New York, 2014. Dallas library 330.90511 G148E 2014

Some economists, and certainly those dominating the thinking in the labor movement, believe that the period 1945-1973 was “normal” and that our subsequent problems came about because of bad policies. Most notably, we blame Reagan, Reaganomics, and “trickle down” economics. Our intentions are the best, but our economic analysis is way wrong according to the last few economics books I’ve read, especially this one.

The postwar boom was not normal. It was an extremely unusual period of capitalist history during which the United States dominated the economic world. Capitalists reluctantly shared some of their largesse with a powerful and demanding labor movement. By 1973, it was pretty well over. What happened before and what is now happening afterward is normal capitalism: slow growth, rising inequality, international competition, and inevitable crises.

Some economists treat their discipline like a religion. In religion, God has a purpose for everything. He/She tends to restore balance in a world that makes sense. When things seem to go terribly wrong, God is just moving a few things around with balance and purpose His/Her ultimate goal. Religious people think that the universe has some kind of stasis, and everything within it has a natural balance that we will understand someday after we’re dead. “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why” as the song says.

This religious commitment to balance and purpose is contradicted by everything that happens. The universe has no balance: some stars collide with others, planets come and go. Our lives have no balance: we may be growing cancer cells right alongside the healthy ones.

Things aren’t balanced and purposeful. In fact, things aren’t even whatever we think they are. Everything is changing from one type of thing to another. The only “normal” is change. That’s true of economic systems as well. It’s not a religion, and there is no balance and purpose to be “restored.”

galbraithquote

Galbraith seems to know that, and he lashes the many conventional economists whose conclusions are tailored to suit the desires of their employers. You really have to appreciate Galbraith for that.

The author teaches at UT Austin. He’s a wonderful writer. Whether or not he’s a great economist, I suppose, will be revealed over the next few years because, unlike most, he does not believe that America will ever return to the growth period from around 1945 to the 1970s. He recommends that we adjust our policies for an extended period of slow growth. His recommendations are a lot like those of Bernie Sanders.

I wonder what he said two weeks ago when President Trump announced that growth in the 2nd quarter of 2018 had exceeded 4%? If they are able to sustain that kind of growth, then Galbraith was simply wrong, but that one quarter could easily be a fluke. I wrote him an email to ask.

Some of his more contemporary remarks, from January 2018, are on-line:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/economist-james-k-galbraith-isnt-celebrating-dow-25000-2018-01-08 He correctly predicted that corporations would not invest their ill-gotten gains from the December, 2017 tax giveaway. He says they will just buy back their own stock and drive up stock prices, and that is certainly what happened over the next 8 months.

This is a good book well worth reading.

OTHER REVIEWS:

https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviews/7923_the-end-of-normal-review-by-hans-g-despain/

Reviewed by Hans G Despainent

View comments

James K Galbraith’s The End of Normal, recently published, is a spectacular achievement in political economy generally, as a philosophical critique of the practice of economics and public policy in particular, and for its comprehensive and totalizing explanation of global monopoly-finance capitalism.

…Galbraith contends that not only does financialization generate massive inequality and instability (see Galbraith 2012), but generates opportunities for colossal fraud. Galbraith contends we must “stipulate that the Great Financial Crisis was rooted in a vast scheme of financial fraud”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144111-the-end-of-normal

Today, four factors impede a return to normal. They are the rising costs of real resources, the now-evident futility of military power, the labor-saving consequences of the digital revolution, and the breakdown of law and ethics in the financial sector.

 

MY NOTES:

Pg10: That bastard Richard Fisher

17 He begins his tale in 1945

21 Effect of communism. At the last chapter, he gives an interesting summary of the economic collapse of the Soviet Union from being a great power to being a total bust

57 Financialization

64 Economists are like monks in a monastery. He handles metaphors very adeptly

67 Capitalism = perfection

68 Stochastic – it means “random”

99 Could this be an error? He says that no gain results from variable costs. Does he think profit comes from fixed costs?

100: Does he think surplus value is produced from energy? Business cycles are caused by technology. Tractors basically caused the great depression by supplanting all the farmers, mules, and horses. Anyway, he thinks resource costs are a big problem. He thinks technology is not going to save us.

164 Explaining the Great Recession: “…fraud took over the financial system because it was expedient to allow it.” The basis for growth ended in the 1970s.

Somewhere in here, he mentions that nobody cares if people move from California to Colorado. I think he’s pointing out that immigration within the Economic Union is a really big problem, but it’s easy within the United States.

222 Cutting Social Security would not help the economy, as they are just transfer payments redistributing wealth but not creating or destroying any

238 There are four obstacles to achieving high growth and full employment:

  1. Energy markets remain high cost and uncertain (this was 2014)
  2. World economy is no longer under the effective financial and military control of the United States and its allies.
  3. Digital technology replaces a lot more jobs than it creates
  4. The private financial sector has ceased to serve as a motor of growth

Pg 241: Why not live in a “no growth” world? He says that our store of capital would not get replenished so productivity would fall continuously

The Soviets were a great powerhouse by the 1960s, but they did not rebuild and replenish their productive abilities and, eventually, lost the technology race. Their production got more and more costly and less and less quality. After the government collapses, the economy really went to hell. GNP dropped by half, life expectancy dropped from 72 down to 58 (pg 259).

He doesn’t think cutting the working hours would be as good as just letting people retire earlier.

Book review:

Piketty, Thomas: Capital in the 21st Century, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 2014. 332-041 P636C in Dallas Public Library

The library had to renew this book twice before I could finish its 577 pages. Like other books about economics, it is full of Greek symbols, formulas, graphs, and statistics.

inequality

Piketty claims to have accumulated more economic data than any work before him. His facts and numbers go back into the 18th century. His best data is from his home country, France, but he has a lot from U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy. A little data from other countries and a little data from other times going back to the Romans. This book shook the world. His information base is far more comprehensive than anything else I’ve seen or heard of.

It is difficult to argue against someone who has the data, so I won’t argue over facts. But I will argue against his interpretation of the data, and I will argue even more strongly against his suggestions for future action. First, a bit about what he says:

It was very gratifying to see that he doesn’t think that economics can stand as an independent science. It has to be combined with other disciplines, especially politics, to be of any use.

Piketty’s graphs show that the period from roughly 1914 to 1973 was very different from before or after. Inequality was rampant before, it’s rampant now, but it wasn’t so dire during 1914-1973. I’ll call that the abnormal period. Capitalism is now “normal,” that is, it is creating devastating inequality. Piketty asserts strongly that the best solution is a global tax on wealth, not for revenue, but to redistribute wealth and lessen inequality.

During the abnormal period, the author says, there were two world wars and a depression. Governments established strong central banks to deal with the world depression. To pay for their wars, they implemented progressive taxation, especially of income and inheritance. As for the cause of these developments and the subsequent lessening of inequality, Piketty just calls the wars and depression “shocks.”

Were “Shocks” the Cause?

That’s not how I interpret the abnormal period that Piketty revealed. Something else happened 1914-1973 besides a depression and two world wars.

I note that 1914 marked the upsurge of the workers movement worldwide, not just in Russia. In America, for example, socialists were being elected to office, including to the U.S. Congress. I also note that 1973 marked the Sino-Soviet split (Nixon’s trip to China) the beginning of the downturn for the USSR in particular and the worldwide workers’ movement in general. One book I read said that the American labor movement died during Nixon’s campaign for a second term (they didn’t support McGovern). At any rate, the American labor movement’s weakening was certainly visible by 1973.

Inequality was indeed lessened by progressive taxation during the abnormal period, but it wasn’t because of “shocks.” It was because the workers’ movement was waxing strong. During World War I, the Bolsheviks took power and inspired the world movement. During the depression, communists argued that the Soviet Union was the only untouched major economy in the world. After World War II, communists were politically strong because they had led the resistance movements in occupied territories such as France, China and Vietnam; not to mention that the USSR defeated Hitler.

Of course the big capitalist nations raised taxes and granted health care and retirement to workers during the abnormal period! In the face of the threatening workers’ movement, what else could they have done?

But by 1973, the workers’ movement was on the wane in the U.S. and elsewhere. At that point, capitalist nations began to take back what they had allowed, to further undermine the workers, and to drive the Soviets into insolvency.

What drives history?

To put it bluntly: the motor force of history is the class struggle, not various “shocks.”

Now, as for Piketty’s remedy for runaway inequality and eventual disaster: He knows, and says so several times, that his worldwide tax on wealth is not feasible. It would take far more transparency than capitalists will allow to even know who to tax and how much. To think that democracy can impose itself on the capitalist class is to assume that the workers’ democracy movement is strengthening and the capitalist power is diminishing, when Piketty knows the opposite is true.

As inequality increases, and it is increasing greatly, probably far more than Piketty could have predicted when he wrote this great book in 2014, then the power of the wealthy increases as well. They are not just piling up wealth; they are also piling up power. As long as they are in power, they will never allow Piketty’s pipe dream to come true. He knows that.

Disaster Lies Ahead

But Piketty’s assertion that inequality will continue to rise and will become intolerable is irresistible. He must be right. When this certainty becomes clear to everyone, that the rich are getting almost everything and the rest of us are moving close to starvation, the situation will indeed be intolerable. Only three outcomes are possible: devastating world war, fascism or revolution.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio 89.3 in Dallas every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. Podcasts are available through the “events” tab. What I really think is on my personal site.

NOTES:

Uses several Latin and French terms:

A priori – “from before” used to mean that no proof is necessary

“Cadastral” (of a map or survey) showing the extent, value, and ownership of land, especially for taxation.

“Belle Epoque” – Period ending 1914

“a fortiore” used to express a conclusion for which there is stronger evidence than for a previously accepted one.

Pg1 (bottom) He says we need to regain control over capitalism. He’s going to tell us how by the end of this book.

13 Kuznet’s curve says that capitalist growth will even out inequality without any need for anybody to do anything. The market and invisible hand will care for us.

50 Beta = capital/annual income. Usually 6

52 (top) Economics cannot stand alone. Must be combined with politics and other kinds of studies before it yields useful knowledge

52 First law of capitalism Theta = rate of growth times (Capital/annual income)

Theta is capital’s share of national income

r is rate of return on capital

52 Karl Marx quite wrong. My question: Not all capital is invested

Pg86: “They decided to work less” – He ignores class struggle altogether!

87 on consumption. Does he realize that older societies produced and consumed agreat deal that never reached a market? They made their own clothes, for example.

Pg166: Beta = s/g =The 2nd law of capitalism

203 Corporations invented circa 1850

222 Steady rise in Beta and Theta

250: Middle “class” – he means income

270: Measurement is “never neutral.”

275 War & rent control mentioned but not USSR

279 “Income from labor.” I think he is including CEO pay. It’s interesting that he doesn’t seem to know that CEO pay is skyrocketing because CEO’s command the corporate boards that set CEO pay. In other words, CEO pay isn’t “labor,” it’s income from capital.

332 (bottom) CEO Pay

355 Fiscal Competition – nothing so far on class struggle, but I think it explains the first half of 20th century even though he attributes it to “shock.”?

358 Inequality causes political reaction

409 (middle) In the 1970s, people thought that inequality was defeated

423 “rent is not an imperfection”

439 tax on capital

471 “…it was the wars of the twentieth century that, to a large extent, wiped away the past and transformed the structure of inequality.”

why not the class struggle?

471 war, disaster, or Piketty’s global tax on wealth?

473 “The crisis of 2008 was the first crisis of the globalized patrimonial capitalism of the twenty-first century. It is unlikely to be the last.”

474 New instruments needed

475 graph of social spending (class struggle again)

484 Social mobility lower in U.S.

488 Privatizing Social Security?

497 Taxes growing more regressive. Tax competition mentioned over and over. Too bad he wrote this before the Republican tax giveaway of 2017!

500 Bolsheviks. Progressive taxes

509 International competition

514 “No hypocrisy is too great”

518 Capital tax not for revenue but for wealth redistribution

519 Top centile’s growth goes on indefinitely.

Transparency needed

521 How could this be done without a world government? It couldn’t and he knows it

529 Italian was voted out for having invented a wealth tax

534 He is against protectionism and says it creates no value. All this before Trump!

539 “Temptations of defensive nationalism and identity politics…” sounds like he was anticipating Trumpism

541 Public debt solutions: taxes on capital, inflation, austerity

Pg 558 his solution to European public debt is for all the EU to pool their debts and make a common solution. Utopian!

Pg 560 “…the Eurozone cannot do without a genuine parliamentary chamber…” more utopia

560: “Tax competition” used throughout the book. Described here as the various nations lowering their corporate taxes in order to compete with one another. I’ve been calling this “inter-imperialist competition” for years.

His solutions throughout the book are worldwide inter-nation solutions, when he knows that won’t happen. Also, he wrote this before the Brexit vote began a chasm in the EU. He’s assuming more cooperation between nations, not less as we are already seeing.

562: “…without such a European political union, it is highly likely that tax competition will continue to wreak havoc. The race to the bottom continues in regard to corporate taxes…”

566: He agrees with me about bond elections: “…debt often becomes a backhanded form of redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich…” The wealthy should be taxed instead of allowed to loan money and collect interest.

567 “…debt must be reduced as quickly as possible, ideally by means of a progressive one-time tax on private capital or, failing that, by inflation….”

569: his solution: Economic transparency and democratic control of capital. Neither one of which currently exists.

572: The right solution

574: “Political economy” is the term he prefers

577 (last page) “…economic and political changes are inextricably intertwined and must be studied together.” He prefers “political economy” to “scientific economics.”

The last line of the book: “Refusing to deal with numbers rarely serves the interests of the least well-off.”

OTHER REVIEWS:

Synopsis: https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pikettys-inequality-story-in-six-charts

Piketty’s Inequality Story in Six Charts

By John Cassidy

March 26, 2014

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2014/05/04/thomas-pikettys-capital-summarised-in-four-paragraphs

The Economist explains Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarized in four paragraphs.

A very brief summary of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/05/08/thomas-piketty-new-gilded-age/

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age

Paul Krugman

MAY 8, 2014 ISSUE

http://bostonreview.net/class-inequality/marshall-steinbaum-why-are-economists-giving-piketty-cold-shoulder

Boston Review: Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder?

MARSHALL STEINBAUM

May 12, 2017

“his work on inequality is an agenda-setting and generation-marking intellectual achievement, potentially as explosive (albeit with a longer fuse) in academia as it has been outside of it.”

The car accident was not the fault of old Glen Lang. Somebody left the handbrake off their delivery truck, and it rolled down Nob Hill, across the stop sign, and right at the driver’s side of Glen’s little auto. He saw it coming, and the first thing that crossed Glen’s careful mind was not his own safety. He thought, instead, of whether or not he was to blame, which of course he wasn’t, but he didn’t have time to resolve that before his car was lifted in the air and whisked to safety on the other side of the intersection.

And, before Glen even had time to realize that he had been saved, Wonder Woman jumped into his car! “Let’s go,” she said, and Glen obediently eased the car slowly forward. This was going to take a few minutes to assimilate.

gadot-face

Eventually, though, Glen had the presence of mind to peep hesitantly over at the strangely clad but very real woman in the front seat of his car. She was, indeed, Wonder Woman, complete with the red boots, the boomerang tiara, and the glowing magic lasso at her side. Or, he decided, she might not be the real Wonder Woman, but she was certainly Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress who played Wonder Woman in movies.

Gal Gadot, Glen had realized in the movie theater, was perfection. She didn’t just look like Wonder Woman, she looked like the best woman that God ever made. She was the penultimate wish of every man, perfection. What she would be doing in an old man’s ancient automobile was more than he could figure out.

It crossed his mind, of course, to ask her. But years of cautious living had taught Glen that questioning a good thing was unlikely to help anything and might hurt. So he just drove.

“I was on my way home,” he said tentatively.

Gadot smiled broadly and looked right at him, right at Glen!

He must have blushed. He hoped he hadn’t, but he knew he probably had. He examined the road ahead scrupulously, paid full attention to his driving, kept his face toward the road, and kept driving.

What should he do next? He tried to keep his thoughts concealed while he figured out the next course of action. But what was it?

The thought of politely asking Wonder Woman where she wanted to be dropped off was, of course, the first idea. But on further consideration, he thought it might sound foolish. After all, if she was Wonder Woman she could call her invisible aircraft any time and go anywhere she wanted, so why would she need Glen for a chauffeur? If she wasn’t really Wonder Woman, but was actually Gal Gadot, then she could surely have a limousine pick her up anywhere. So asking her where she wanted to be dropped off was surely superfluous and might only make him, Glen, look like a silly chatterbox, just talking to hear himself talk.

As he had already told Gal Gadot that he was driving home, and as she had not given him further direct instructions, that’s where he drove.

As he pulled into the driveway, he wondered what protocol was in order next. Should he run around to open the door for her — surely a silly thing to do for a woman who could not only open a door but lift an entire car — or should he just sit there and wait for instructions — “and look dumb,” he thought. Besides, do younger people open doors for each other? It also occurred to him to just sit there in the driveway, which would, also, he thought, look dumb.

No other course of action availing itself, Glen decided to just get out of the car. By then, she had already solved all the protocol problems by opening her own door and getting out of the car first. Then she waited, again smiling magnificently and looking right directly at old Glen Lang.

Anybody else, Glen realized, might have lost their cool. But he was resolved. He walked to the door and held it open for whoever it was, either the most beautiful actress ever in a movie or an actual goddess. She walked right in.

Like anybody else, Glen then glanced around to see if there was anything amiss in his little place. Of course there wasn’t. He wasn’t rich, but he wasn’t a slob, either. At the same time, the little house was, he admitted, rather humble for such a guest. He wondered if it smelled like old people?

Nothing seemed to bother Gal Gadot about the place. “I’ve gotta get these boots off,” she smiled, “Do you mind?” And before Glen had the presence of mind to answer, she was sitting on his little sofa and pulling her wondrous boots off her wondrous feet.

“Would you care for a-a, a glass of water?” he asked. He hated that he had stammered, and he was embarrassed to realize that he was almost positive that he was blushing again.

“Not just yet,” she said as she stood up on her incredible bare feet and then — completely to Glen’s shock — placed her hand on his forearm. “Why don’t you show me around first?” Her irresistible smile weakened Glen’s knees. He tried to not, but he looked down at her hand. He had never seen such a beautiful hand. He had never noticed such perfectly manicured nails. Such skin coloring, such  smoothness, such a lack of pores or unsightly hair! How much time had passed?

And, it seemed to Glen, that she was standing closer than any woman had stood near Glen in decades. He thought he could smell her and even feel the radiation of her body heat. He strained his hopes that he wasn’t going to embarrass himself in front of her, but he was almost positive that he would. And then something even worse began to present itself to the squirming self-consciousness of Glen Lang.

He felt a stirring in his pants.

“Uh,” Glen’s voice seemed to have dropped a couple of octaves and was almost a grunt when he finally responded, “Yes.”

He led Gal Gadot through the narrow kitchen. He pointed out the bathroom with just the slightest hope that a rest stop was what the goddess might want — but she didn’t respond — and then found himself hesitating in front of the open bedroom door. Then he entirely ran out of the ability to think, and just stood there immobile.

The gorgeous hand of Wonder Woman herself pushed Glen Lang gently inside. Then it slithered down his back and, to his utter disbelief, slightly squeezed his buttock! For the first time, Glen stopped worrying that he would faint and started hoping that he would!

Wonder Woman then took over completely. First she undressed Glen, then herself. The breastplate came off and revealed, as he would have thought if he could have thought at all, that Gal Gadot was even more perfect without her costume than with it. Glen cowered. Gadot glowed!

Glen Lang was amazed with Gal Gadot, but he was also amazed with himself. He hadn’t had a stiff erection in at least a decade, and he was sure that, no matter what this beautiful goddess might want, he would not be able to provide it.

But he had that same worry in intimate situations when he was younger, and somehow had provided himself with an adequate erection when the occasion demanded it. So, as he had done when he was much younger, he waited silently and hoped. Sure enough, and to his complete amazement, the long-missing erection was developing!

Not only did Glen Lang get an erection, but he found himself perfectly capable as the Goddess slid beneath him on the top of his tiny bed. Before it was over, Glen had even begun to remember some small part of his old technique.

Afterward, he at last said said one of the awkward things that he had hoped he wouldn’t say, “I can’t believe I did that,” he gasped.

“It was good,” beamed the naked goddess.

“I haven’t been able to do that for years. Not for years and years,” Glen protested

“Well,” Gal Gadot said, “I may deserve some of the credit.”

“Certainly, certainly,” Glen said, and realized that it was perfectly true. How could any man not respond sexually to Wonder Woman or Gal Gadot?

He lay quietly, in fear that he might again say something out of place.

Finally, she broke the long silence, “You OK?”

“Better than that,” he smiled and turned on his side toward her. In fact, he was aware, he was beginning to feel just the slightest stirring around his penis again. “I think I’ve died and gone to Heaven.”

She smiled and snuggled close.

“I feel like I have died and gone to Heaven,” Glen repeated. No response.

“Have I?” he finally asked. “Did that truck hit my car? Have I died and gone to Heaven?”

“Yes,” softly reassured the beautiful goddess. “How do you like it so far?”

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio 89.3 FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. You can find podcasts under the “events” tab. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

Book Review:

Thomas Hartman, The Crash of 2016. Twelve, the Hachette Book Group, New York,  2013

us-economic-collpase

If there really had been a crash in 2016, Hartman would have been considered a great genius. As there wasn’t, he ends up with some egg on his face. Further unfortunately for Hartman, some of the problems he points out were already reversed by the Trump administration, specifically tariffs and China-bashing. So his argument for the crash of 2016 is further undermined.

However, a ‘great crash’ within the present time frame would nevertheless redeem him and people would only say that he missed it a few years. The book is a good, exciting, read, but I would have to put it into the category of well-written alarmist narrative rather than serious economic study. Like all of the books written before Piketty (2015 in English) that I have read, they consider 1945-1979 “normal” and everything subsequent as “abnormal.’ I consider this wrong, and so does Piketty. The abnormal period was 1945-1979. Before and after that short “American century,” what happened and is happening is just capitalism.

Hartman puts most of the fault for the disastrous 1979-to-present period on mental states and subjective attitudes rather than historical and economic developments. FDR was a good guy, the “economic royalists” were bad guys with questionable sanity. In fact he calls them psychopaths. The rest of us are guilty of mental lapses, too, as new generations go through a “great forgetting” that causes us to repeat previous economic errors.

As Hartman doesn’t understand the cause of the present economic problems, he doesn’t have a very good handle on solutions, either. Some of his hopes are presently being carried out by Donald J. Trump and are not likely to bring long-term economic benefit to the populace.  He also proposes things that aren’t likely to happen given current trends. After the “crash of 2016” that he predicts, he wants us to reinvigorate democracy through election reform. He wants the labor movement to be encouraged by government. Most of all, he seems to want worker cooperatives to replace the giant corporations as the main economic engines.

How any of that could happen, Hartman doesn’t say.

some notes:

Pg15: Good quote from Grover Cleveland in 1888: “The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor. As we view the achievements of aggregate capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

20: The Business plot: General Smedley Butler blew the whistle on a plot to bring an army of 500,000 men into DC to oust FDR. The front man for the businessmen and banksters was Gerald MacGuire.

26: Moyers quote on plutocracy on 2011: “Our democracy is dysfunctional…. We no longer have a government of, by, and for the people– representative democracy. We have government by plutocracy– the rule of the rich for the rich by the rich…. Plutocracy has one purpose, which is to protect wealth.”

Pg34: Powell memo outlined how Republicans could take over. Lewis F Powell Jr in 1971 went to Nixon. Nixon made him Supreme Court Justice. His memo, written to the United States Chamber of Commerce just before his nomination, recommended a militant political action program ranging from the courts to the campuses. He wanted to undo the New Deal.  Powell called on corporate leaders to launch an economic and ideological assault on college and high school campuses, the media, the courts, and Capitol Hill. The objective was simple: the revival of the Royalist-controlled so-called ‘free market’ system. (page 37)

pg40 Roger Ailes prepared the way for Fox news misrepresentation

pg43: lobbying mushroomed. ALEC formed

44: CATO and Heritage foundation come out of Koch Brothers

48: Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United

52: “Trickle down” economist Milton Friedman advises the fascists in Chile. Terrible economic results

71: He credits FDR and “good “ politics for 1945-1979 good times. Unlike Piketty, who says it was the “shocks” of two world wars.

88: He is pro-tariffs. This is before Trump imposed them

93: Psychopaths. He says that banksters and other filthy rich are basically psychopaths. In fact, a lot of Hartman’s analysis has to do with mental states. He thinks that generations go through a “great forgetting,” for example, that causes us to repeat previous economic errors.

95: Getting sillier. He thinks madness is part of evolution.

96-7: Oligopoly

101: On China, he seems to be agreeing with Trump again. Lots of China bashing here

122: Tillman Act under Theodore Roosevelt stopped corporate electioneering

151: Corporations, especially Railroad Corporations, made many efforts to get legalization in Supreme Court decisions. They always lost until “Citizens United.”

207: He gives recommendations for after the crash of 2016. It’s all reformism of capitalism. He espouses value of co-operatives.

273: Author is described as a talk show host with several important books before this one.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on the “Workers Beat” talk show on radio KNON in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. Podcasts are available under the “events” tab. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site.

I organized a musical event for July 14 at the CWA Local 6215 hall in Dallas. We celebrated Bastille Day and Woody Guthrie’s birthday. As far as I know, it was the first of
its kind in Dallas history. It came out very well. About 50-55 people, including 6 performers, had a great time. There was a lot of good will. I’m not sure how much money we
raised for KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program, but we raised $534.25 that I know of for Dallas AFL-CIO.

But why did I do it?

I’ve organized cultural events before. In general, I’m motivated by a desire to restore the kind of cultural traditions that helped build the American labor movement during
its great upsurge, 1935-1947. I also like to try to combine the labor movement with other progressive elements, in fact that’s what I’m usually trying to do — build unity. As
for fund raising, I’m always raising money for my program on KNON. But I had a special reason for making this one a fund raiser for the Dallas AFL-CIO.

It is my opinion that the labor movement is being bled to death by Donald J Trump and the Republican party. The recent Supreme Court, Janus Vs AFSCME, will deplete labor’s
finances by millions of dollars. Trump’s executive orders driving federal unions out of their workplace offices will cost a lot. The concerted effort of such savage anti-
worker organizations as the National Right to Work Committee and many others is designed to discourage workers and stop dues payments. Many state legislatures are trying to
stop or hinder dues collections.

I don’t know any numbers, and the labor movement is not likely to start advertising its weaknesses, but I think it’s fair to assume that they really need money. I knew I
could’t raise a lot of money with a simple singalong on July 14, but I also knew that we have to start changing people’s attitudes about financing the labor movement. That was
my motivation. I’m pleased with the result.

Here’s What Happened

If you missed the event, you might want to read what was said and watch videos of what was sung. Here are my notes.

Host’s introductions and comments:

Introduce Dallas AFL-CIO principal officer Mark York. He will include greetings from Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy as follows:

“I can’t think of a better quote about labor songs and culture than from the man himself [Woody Guthrie]:

‘I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for
nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad
luck or hard travelling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your
world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that
make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the
other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the
ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think that you’ve not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d
sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that
anyhow.’

‘We have to make our own songs and our own culture and remember who we are and what we are fighting for. Thanks to you and the folks putting this together for reminding us to
always be true to our best nature and be proud of who we are.” –Rick Levy

Host (me): Thank you for being here to help us revive labor’s cultural heritage. It’s a singalong. You should have a song sheet with the words to the chorus of some great
songs.

When you leave today, I’d like to have your contact information on the back of the song sheets so you can learn about future events.

Why do we say that Woody Guthrie is America’s greatest songwriter? He began his singing career in the 1930s and was taken from public view by 1950, so hardly anybody in this
room has any direct memories of him. Some of you know the name of his son, Arlo Guthrie, and some of you may know some of the songs that he wrote, but he wrote hundreds and
had a profound effect on the progressive movement in America. That’s why we’re celebrating him today.

Woody put working people first. Almost all of his songs are about working families, and many of them are about organizing. One of the most famous is “Union Maid,” brought to
you here by Linda Coleman. She’ll sing the verses, but she wants you to help her sing the chorus

Union Maid and some introductory video: https://youtu.be/rkq8dK0GP6o

Woody Guthrie popularized the “Talking blues.” You’ve heard this style from Nobel-prize-winner Bob Dylan. But you may never have asked where Dylan got his style. Let’s have a
couple of talking blues from Brother Kenneth Williams:

Talking Union
Mean Talking Blues: https://youtu.be/oxMKDrDGZ0g

Woody sang for unions, for people on strike, and for organizing drives. Here is Kenny Winfree with Woody’s song: “You Gotta Go Down”
You Gotta Go Down and Join the Union: https://youtu.be/ynQqbpRM_bw

Almost any book of folk songs will have more Woody Guthrie tunes than those from any other writer. He wrote songs about everything. Pete Seeger tells the story of the
blacklist time when the FBI was arresting, deporting, or intimidating every progressive artist in America. The FBI actually visited Woody and Pete, and Pete said it really was
intimidating. But he said Woody laughed about it and immediately wrote a new song: Would I point a gun for my country.

All folk music is very close to gospel music. When Woody was just a little boy in Okemah, Oklahoma, his mother sang gospel and folk music to him. James Kille brings you some
of Woody’s original lyrics:
Jesus Christ: https://youtu.be/OdsBZHJ6ePY

In the tradition of original folk music, we bring you this satire by our own Dallas group: The Billionaires
Billionaire song (in previous video I think)

Fund Pitch:
All his life, Woody Guthrie was committed to the progressive movement, and so are we. We’d like to have your help in keeping two pillars of progressivism going strong: KNON
radio and the Dallas AFL-CIO. KNON allows the “Workers Beat” every Saturday at 9 AM. We advertise as many progressive events as we can find out, and we explain why people need
to join the movement. The very center of the movement in Dallas is the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council. The labor movement has put its old isolation behind it and is a
fundamental part of progressivism today. It takes money to run these things, and they’re always short. As Woody used to say when they asked him if he was a communist: “Well, I
might be, I’ve been in the red all my life.”

Please fill out the pledge form in your brochures. You can get all the paperwork done with Bonnie Mathis, who has her computer warmed up and waiting for you. When you get
finished, how about some free lunch and a beer? We’ll start the music up as soon as the artists all eat.
Fund Pitch

Noon: Lunch break

Ashaken Farewell
Shenandoah (Included with “Philadelphia lawyer” below)

Introduce the performers? At least Jon Gentry on violin. Ben Willett recording us.

Woody loved to write about cowboys, and he had fun with everything he did. Next James Kille, Linda Coleman, and I will bring you one of Woody’s ballads.
Philadelphia Lawyer: https://youtu.be/sewKC7EVysw

Today, the treatment of immigrants is an international scandal. Woody was sensitive to the problem when he wrote this song, presented to you by Anthony Esparza.
Deportee: https://youtu.be/iYGiR-TN3LQ

All of us are pretty much amateurs except for Kenny Winfree. I asked him to do a couple of extra numbers before we get back to Woody Guthrie
Kenny Winfree extra songs: https://youtu.be/dSKUtCbKv2o

Back around 1990, My wife and I visited Okemah, Oklahoma, where Woody was born in 1912. We asked people about Woody and they said “We don’t talk about him here.” Within a few
years, they changed their tune and now the Woody Guthrie annual festival is an important national event. It’s a sign of the times: As the government gets crazier, the people
are getting more sane.

Oklahoma may not have loved Woody all the time during his lifetime, but Woody sure loved Oklahoma! Join me in the chorus please!
Oklahoma Hills: https://youtu.be/AsHSSSw9UmI

In Woody’s time, the biggest issue became the fascist takeover of Europe. Woody fought it every way he could. Some people would say that we need a fight like that now!
All You Fascists Bound to Lose: https://youtu.be/-X5wHfLfKhc

Americans come together around Woody’s songs. Let’s join in on the chorus for this one.
This Land is Your Land: https://youtu.be/oL8RNiIi3qI

THANKS FOR COMING!

Sad to say, a rift is under way in the progressive movement.

tariff-definition

The AFL-CIO, main federation of the American labor movement, favors Trump’s tariffs. Our allies in the Democratic party, desperate to win in November, are pretty much united in the belief that Trump can do no right.

On July 12, the AFL-CIO conducted a webinar led by Celeste Drake, their trade specialist. Even though there were a lot of “we don’t mean this” and “we don’t mean that,” the essence of the discussion was that labor thinks tariffs on steel and aluminum are good policy and should have been done decades ago.

Why?

I’ve tried to make this clear several times: labor unions represent our members. It’s the best and the worst thing you can say about us. We do not represent other people’s members, and we do not represent humankind, we do not represent abstract ideals. We represent our members, and our members want job security. Some of them, most notably the Steelworkers, think they can get it, or get more of it, with Trump’s tariffs.

Unions lamented the fact that many unionists in the “rust belt” voted for Trump. This is why.

So, the AFL-CIO position is sure to alienate some of our Democrat friends. It’s going to alienate some unionists, too. For example, the autoworkers probably don’t like tariffs on steel because it means that autos produced in America will cost more and be at a disadvantage in world markets. Aerospace workers won’t like tariffs on aluminum for the same reason.

But, here’s the irony of it, if Trump carries out his threat to put tariffs on foreign-made automobiles, the auto workers will probably be doing handsprings. If he put tariffs on foreign-made aircraft, the aircraft workers would be glad. That’s the way it works.

But Will It Work?

I think the AFL-CIO has taken a wrong turn. I think it’s possible, maybe even likely, that they will reconsider before very long. My opinion doesn’t come because I love Democrats, or even because I hate to see controversy and divisions within the working class. The fact is that the government of the United States does not function on behalf of working people.

We’ve seen that in all of the so-called “free trade” and “globalization” deals over the past few decades. Those deals, as the AFL-CIO is first to say, were for the big transnational corporations and at the expense of working people and the environment. We fought them at every turn. We said we weren’t isolationists, we weren’t for protectionism, we didn’t want to alienate other countries, but we knew we had to fight the transnationals. That made sense.

So why would anybody think that Donald Trump’s stance on “America first” is going to benefit American workers? I guarantee that, whatever comes of Trump’s international policies, including his trade policies, it will not benefit American workers.

What drives the big corporations today is international competition. American corporations try to out-sell, for example, Chinese producers. The main way they compete is to drive down their production costs. That’s us. Workers. We are their main production costs. That didn’t change when Trump got elected.

What’s the Answer?

Ultimately, American workers need international solidarity. Within our unions, we often say that we aren’t trying to bring everybody down to a common level, but we are trying to bring everybody up to the highest level. Why shouldn’t we apply that to foreign workers as well?

We need to work with foreign workers against our common enemy — transnational corporations and their stooges in government. It won’t be easy, but it’s the only way to win.

The old Congress of Industrial Workers (CIO), before it capitulated to the American Federation of Labor (AFL), was more internationalist. They formed an international organization for trade unionists — the World Federation of Trade Unionists — at the end of World War II. In my reading of history, it sounds like they were seriously trying to bring all workers together and fight the corporations that are our common enemy.

The right-turn of 1947 changed all that. Anticommunism became the new union religion, and anti-internationalism is part of anticommunism. The CIO joined the AFL in 1955 and both of them joined the CIA.  The great progressive turn of 1995 started putting the American labor movement back on a good solid progressive course. Since 1995, the AFL-CIO has hardly made a single decision that didn’t inspire me to join their cheering squad.

Until this one. I hope it doesn’t last long.

-Gene Lantz

I’m still on radio KNON at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. Two weeks’ worth of podcasts can be found under the “events” tab. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site.