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Comment Re:I dont care of WallStreet likes linux (Score 1) 339

That's interesting. In the USA almost all Swedish policies are seen as left-wing. That is to say that conservatives think Sweden is all godless government control and leftists think it's policies are sensible but too socialistic to gain popular support here.

However, privatizing Social Security is seen as extremely right wing. Investing our main retirement fund in the stock market would be a huge boon to companies in the short term, but who knows what the effects would be in the long run? All US liberals (equivalent on a good day to EU Social Democrats), socialists, progressives, most moderates, and even a good portion of conservatives want social security to remain a state entitlement program.

Comment Syndicalism (Score 0) 487

"Shoemakers should be run by shoe guys and software firms by software guys." That's called workers' self-management. It is best implemented through industrial unionism, anarcho-syndicalism, or a network of co-operatives.

The problem with corporate capitalism is twofold. One is that management (the so criticized MBAs) have a class interest separate from both owners and workers. There are cases where management will act to retain their own wealth and power even at the expense of overall efficiency. They are also not necessarily the most knowledgeable about the core work of the businesses they run; much of business school is unscientific trendy buzzword compliant model building and improperly contextualized case studies. The business world chants the mantra, "a manager is a manager". The assumption is they can run any firm regardless of actual knowledge of the technical and social aspects of a particular market. Workers end up with clueless destructive bosses.

The other main problem with corporations, from the perspective of the worker, is the market itself. The short term interests of shareholders often drastically differ from the long-term interests of workers, consumers, and society at large. Investors ignore systemic risk that can destroy whole economies, sell off valuable assets and cut R&D for short term gains at the expense of long term viability, move production to whichever nation can do the work with the lowest human rights and environmental protections at tremendous social cost, etc. This system is clearly sub-optimal, to put it mildly.

Comment Funding (Score 0) 1026

Posters are asking where the money will come from. I doubt this is what congress and Obama have in mind, but here are some ideas.

Tax oil and cut subsidies to highways and airports. Fossil fuels have negative externalities and should not be supported by the state. Right now driving and flying are artificially cheap due to public funding of roads, street signs/lights, airports, security and traffic cops, etc. Not only should subsidies end, but a tax should be placed on carbon intensive travel to reflect the true social cost of driving and flying (loss of liberty/privacy due to the TSA and traffic cops, deaths from accidents, health costs from pollution, climate change, other environmental effects, etc).

The US government could also reduce it's dangerous empire. The USA has hundreds of military basses and spends more than the rest of the world combined on the military. It's time to put the interests of domestic social spending ahead of suppressing self-determination in the developing world. Military spending was a proxy for high tech development throughout the cold war. If we could invest in science and engineering to blow people up, we can certainly invest in science and engineering for green transportation and energy.

The USA also has the largest prison system in the world. Releasing those who committed minor crimes, especially consensual crimes related to drug use or sexuality would go a long way to reducing state costs. Better to spend $15,000 to put someone* on welfare or $20,000 to put them through community college than to spend $40,000 a year to incarcerate them.

*usually someone young and "of color".

Comment Correct rulling (Score 4, Insightful) 316

Concerted activity is protected regardless of the medium of communication. In order for workers to organize to improve their lives, they must be free to discuss wages or conditions without facing retaliation from their bosses. In practice this is rarely the case, especially since most workers lack a union to back up their rights. It's good that the courts didn't take capital's side for once.

Comment Re:"The clever shall inherit the earth" (Score 1, Insightful) 671

Capital generates no wealth. "Without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn." Labor creates all wealth. Yes we can be more productive with better technology, but capitalists: private owners, managers, and investors do not create better technology, they only charge us for the "right" to use tools that our class (the engineers, miners, teamsters, fabricators, chemists, programmers, etc) created in the first place!

Moreover, capitalism is highly sub-optimal for creating "wealth" in the form the most advanced technology, best satisfying human needs, and minimizing externality costs. Market demand is all based on short term individual profit. Basic science that benefits all of industry/humanity and takes decades of investment generally needs to be paid for socially, not by through market investment. (Universities, national labs, NASA, the military industrial complex, etc). Human needs are not well satisfied by a system that gives more "votes" to the small class that has the most dollars while letting poor kids go uneducated, sick, and malnourished. Under capitalism, firms have an incentive to externalize as many costs as possible and force third parties to pay for things like pollution, systematic risk (bailouts), etc.

Comment Re:The Myth of the Meritocracy (Score 2) 671

It is true that intergenerational mobility is particularly apparent in American immigrant households. Every generation following the original immigrants appears to increase their income by 5 to 10 percent, thus creating social mobility.

However, people with many generations of family already in the USA experiencing little social mobility, and most intergenerational mobility is downward.

It's hard to compare racism in the USA and Europe. There are still structural socio-cultural-political barriers for people of color in the USA, even though it has a Black President. The criminal justice system incarcerates more people than any other nation and disproportionately targets Black and Latino men, especially for non-violent drug related offenses. There has been a recent backlash against immigrants with "Minutemen" vigilantes murdering innocent immigrants along the border.

The French suburbs may be ghettos, but Germany has probably gone further in the past 75 years than any nation in becoming a more inclusive society (granted they were in worst shape for racial/ethnic relations, so they had nowhere to go but up, but still)...some European nations have more favorable immigration policies than the USA, others more restrictive policies. Europe is a big diverse place.

Comment Re:"The clever shall inherit the earth" (Score 1) 671

How do you get...workers self management?

I can think of two basic paths. If we are dealing with a state that has some semblance of functioning electoral democracy, free speech, an educated populace, than I can imagine a libertarian social democracy gradually evolving into a more and more egalitarian and participatory society over time. This would probably be supported by various peaceful social movements, local community councils, tenants organizations, democratic labor unions, etc.

On the other hand, if we are dealing with an undemocratic state with little meaningful popular participation, powerful political, church, and corporate leaders would need to be toppled by force through workers militias. Anarcho-syndicalism could emerge in a revolutionary situation like it did in Catalonia in 1936. (of course this would take decades of building a very radical labor movement, a series of general strikes, and the buildup of revolutionary consciousness).

a couple of countries that tried to make that happen.... they generally wound up with genocide, a dictator...
This is why it's important to create social movements that are opposed to all forms of unjust coercive authority. Hierarchical systems aught to be opposed, whether they call themselves christian or secular, capitalist or Marxist-Leninist, whatever.

Comment Re:The Myth of the Meritocracy (Score 1) 671

the USA does a better job of meritocracy than most other countries.

Nope...not if you compare the USA against other OECD nations at least.

"By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States."
--Center for American progress

Comment Re:The Myth of the Meritocracy (Score 2) 671

Actually, you have the wrong idea about libertarianism.

The term libertarian referred to anti-state socialists (anarchists) for a century before the word was hijacked by pro- laissez-faire capitalist right wingers.

Anarchism is at it's core, not so much anti-government (Proudhon's biting and brilliant "to be governed" aside) but opposed to all coercive forms of hierarchy such as the state, organized religion, capitalism, racism, patriarchy, etc. Anarchists envision and support various forms of non-hierarchical self-governance based on mutual aid and voluntary association such as localized or federated democratic structures (unions, councils, etc). Anarchism implies a egalitarian society where workers collectively manage the means of production without bosses or owners. Skilled work (as well as shit work) would be evenly available in balanced job complexes.

From the 1850s to the 1970s the term libertarian referred exclusively to the left (anti-capitalists). It was only in the early 1970s that the USA Libertarian Party hijacked the term. In most of the world libertarian is still refers to anarchists or anarchist leaning political orientations of the left.

Comment "The clever shall inherit the earth" (Score 0) 671

Apparently it's all perfectly wonderful that existing race, gender, and class privilege translates to better access to technology, access to private schooling, growing up in the language/culture of the middle and upper classes, and other determinants of financial success. That way we know that the most deserving can do the most highly paid and socially valued work like engineering new ways to kill people, marketing/branding/manipulating public opinion, speculating on the markets and draining value from the real economy, managing and controlling workers, further entrenching the legal power of corporations in the courts, etc. The most genetically fit earn big bucks and everyone who is poor is there because they are lazy and stupid and do socially valueless work like teaching, manufacturing, transportation, food-service, etc. This is the Economist; what do you expect?

All this talk about the unfairness of socialist redistribution is rather absurd as well. Capitalism involves the most massive redistribution of wealth ever--redistribution from those who produce value (workers) to the ownership class (capitalists) (and their professional techno-managerial class lackeys). An economy under workers self management that allowed everyone to receive the product of their own labor would be vastly more fair than our current state-corporate oligarchy.

For some more illuminating data on inequality, check out Dumhoff.

Comment Re:Take a guess... (Score 4, Informative) 252

That's a bit misleading.

I see benefit in collective bargaining, but I am against unions as they have made themselves today.
Why not support unions that are more democratic than the traditional unions? The UE and the IWW are member run and as democratic as possible.

you cannot remain outside of the collective agreement and retain your job.
In most of the US you don't have to join a union to work in a union shop. Now, you have to pay the same costs as dues to support the infrastructure (stewards, negotiators, etc) that benefits you, but you don't have to actually join the union.

I dislike the fact that in quite a few places a union can call a unionization vote year after year after year until they get in.
Sounds like democracy to me. Hell, why not have automatic elections every year for ALL workplaces where workers can choose which, if any, union they wish to join?

the union can call strike action whenever it likes.
Almost every union contract has a no-strike clause. Strikes tend to happen before a contract (strike for recognition), or after a contract expires.

Comment Re:Unions in nuclear power industry is a bad combo (Score 5, Informative) 252

[Citation Needed]
OK Here's some data:
Herbert Abrams’ Short history of occupational health, published in the Journal
of Public Health Policy, says: “It is important to recognize that throughout the often
tragic history of worker health and disease, the worker played a primary role as the basis
of every significant improvement in legislation, factory inspection, compensation,
correction, and prevention.”

Abrams concludes: “Labour unrest, protests, strikes, lawsuits, and catastrophes were vital
catalysts in obtaining action. Organized labour has been the essential factor central to
most workplace health and safety improvements, from the industrial revolution to the

The Canadian Labour Congress cites a 1993 study done for the Canadian Ministries of
Labour which concludes that union-supported health and safety committees have a
significant "impact in reducing injury rates".

Later studies for the Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Agency “found that 78-79 per
cent of unionized workplaces reported high compliance with health and safety legislation
while only 54-61 per cent of non-unionized workplaces reported such compliance.”

But this isn’t a Canadian phenomenon. US academic Adam Seth Litwin, then with the London School of Economics,
concluded in a review last year of health and safety in UK workplaces that unions
dramatically improve safety in even the most hazardous workplaces.
A non-union office worker was, by Litwin’s calculations, 13 times more likely to suffer
an injury than was a closed-shop union worker on an industrial assembly line.

Even in the US, with a relatively low unionization level of 13 per cent, the effect can be
seen. A 1991 study, using US data, concluded that unions dramatically increased
enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the manufacturing sector.
Unionized firms had a higher probability of having a health and safety inspection, and
their inspections tended to be more probing, as employees exercised their “walkaround
rights” — the right to accompany a government inspector during a workplace tour.

A 1998 paper provides more evidence of the union safety effect. Researchers who
surveyed over 400 industrial hygienists and safety engineers in New Jersey concluded
“effective strategies for involving workers appear to be conditional on a number of
variables, most importantly on worker activism and the effective use of formal
The researchers, writing in the Journal of Public Health Policy, add: “Findings are
consistent with studies from both the US and abroad which emphasize the role of unions
in shaping opportunities for effective worker participation."

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