Friday, January 13, 2012

The war on Producers

The whole point of deregulation was to make it possible to organize massive plunder and not go to jail.  All other reasons proffered are just so many distractions.  At the start of the Reagan administration, there were still a lot of heavy assets to loot.  There have been books written about this era—some of them very good—and there will be a lot more.  The reason is simple—the era of neoliberal plunder of real assets and the deindustrialization that followed represented a historical reversal of a national pro-industrial development strategy that goes back to those inventor founding fathers such as Jefferson, Franklin, and Tom Paine.

During the madness, it mattered little how well an industrial concern was managed.  Loyal customers, good products, great research teams, whatever—didn't matter to a raider.  In fact, suppose a company had set aside a nice nest egg to pay for the development of new products.  In the world of Producers, this made such a company a shining example of industrial capitalism.  In the mind of a raider, this nest egg was what he intended to grab during the hostile takeover.  The idea that the "restructuring" specialists only destroyed the weak and deserving is utter nonsense.  Lots of fine companies were destroyed.  Not merely stolen—destroyed!

It was during this era that USA lost its economic muscle.  I am not going to try to summarize the destruction or highlight some especially bad actors because in truth, EVERYONE got sucked into the madness.  Union pension funds were used to destroy the very industries that would pay future pension costs.  Environmental NGOs invested their endowments in currency swaps.  City administrators bought junk bonds because the higher return meant raises down at city hall without raising taxes.

But there is an interesting new chapter to this story.  In a Republican Primary where a field of political whack-jobs struggle to pander to the party's looniest members, we saw that on Wednesday, a superpac associated with Gnoot released a documentary called When Mitt Romney Came to Town detailing some of the sleazier aspects of Romney's career as head of vulture-fund Bain Capital.  It is well produced, shot, and edited—28 minutes of very professional documentary making.  Something like this required a minimum of three months to make.

It is almost impossible to imagine anything even remotely like this coming from the Obama people.  The Democrats have two problems: 1) They are terrified of offending their new friends on Wall Street, and 2) The critics of capitalism that still remain in the party tend to lump all private enterprise into this big ball of evil—to them, there is no difference between a Steve Jobs who built a roaring success from a handful of good ideas and a vulture like Mitt Romney who stole everything not nailed down.

Well, leave it to some conservatives to understand the difference between industrial and finance capitalism—or as Rick Perry puts it, the difference between venture and vulture capitalism.  Actually I am shocked, puzzled, and delighted by this development.  Here is the documentary (in full) that catalogues some of the destruction caused by the war on Producers.

There are literally thousands of variations to this story.  I could easily spend my life writing about nothing else.  But here are some of the highlights.

Firing of PATCO workers.  In August of 1981, 13,000 air traffic controllers went out on strike for better wages and working conditions.  Reagan fired them all.  And the unions did almost nothing to support their brothers.  Labor has not been the same in USA since.

P9 Strike.  In August 1985, the meatpackers at Hormel's plant in Austin Minnesota went out to protest job cuts, pay cuts, and insanely dangerous working conditions.  This fight would be fought to the bitter end—local P-9 never gave up.  The Minnesota governor who was a member of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party would eventually call in the National Guard to crush the strike—proving that even in "liberal" Minnesota, the DFL had sold out.

The North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA) initially agreed to by GHW Bush but signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993, would accelerate the destruction of manufacturing jobs in USA.  A lot has been written about this but the main lesson was that the Democrats had already sold their shriveled souls to the neoliberal agenda.

SPEEA Strike (2000).  SPEEA Union (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) is quite literally a union of rocket scientists.  One of the reasons unionization is so weak in USA is because most people believe that if their profession is prestigious enough and they are good enough, they don't need union protections.  This was the strike where arguably the MOST prestigious profession found out they needed unions as much as truck drivers.  In fact, without the assistance of the Teamsters, this strike would have been another failure.

Fighting Back

Beyond some spectacularly unsuccessful strikes, the struggle against the new economic order has had few actions of note.  The most notable exception came when protestors shut down WTO meeting in Seattle.  There would be attempt to close down further gathering of bankster planning sessions.  None would succeed.

#OWS.  Ah yes, the latest manifestation of opposition to raw Predation.  We have no idea how this will turn out, but the fact that people are still screaming about the bankster agenda probably means something—we just do not know what...yet.

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