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When College Campuses Hated Unions: Then and Now

[ 17 ] October 6, 2016 |


One of the least told stories in American labor histories is the relationship between college campuses and labor unions. Today, college and university administrators are among the greatest unionbusters in the nation. We saw Long Island University’s attempt to destroy their faculty union a couple of weeks ago. Right now, the 14-school Pennsylvania public regional system is forcing their faculty close to a strike deadline over the same issues of undermining the basic rights of faculty. Private universities have gone to the mat to ensure that graduate students don’t unionize. Unionized food and cleaning workers are fired and the operations outsourced to Aramark and Sodexo.

Not much has changed over the years. A century ago, college students were unionbusting shock troops, frequently used as scabs. Not only at Harvard, but definitely at Harvard.

Consider Harvard’s relations with the mills to the north, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Much of the Lowell family’s wealth had derived from the mills. Those who labored there, mostly immigrants, many of them women and children, worked horrible hours, with poor ventilation, frequent industrial accidents, respiratory ailments and little prospect of promotion.

Harvard’s Lowell had his own solution to the problem: He offered his students (Harvard was then all boys) relief from the upcoming mid-year exams if they would saddle up, arm themselves and guard the capitalists’ property. And this they did, forming a militia – Calvary Troop B — whose intent was to harass the workers and break the strike.

Such an expression of anti-labor sentiments was hardly unique on the Harvard campus. In August, 1919, when the Boston Police went out on strike, Lowell again called on some 200 Harvard students to pick up the duties of the police. That same year a number of Harvard students acted as strike breakers in the Boston Telephone Operators strike. The notion that strikers had legitimate grievances was alien to much of Harvard’s governing body, not to mention many of its students.

Worse was yet to come. The week before Christmas, in 1929, as the Great Depression took hold of the country, the “scrubwomen” who worked as maids cleaning up Harvard’s Widener Library asked that the university pay what the state said was due them – 37 cents — or two extra pennies — an hour. Many of these women – mostly Irish immigrants — were in their fifties and sixties, had been in Harvard’s employ for decades, and, as widows or spinsters, were their own sole source of income. They had waxed the floors of the libraries, tidied up the shelves, cleaned up after students, and polished the brass.

But rather than grant them two pennies extra an hour in compliance with the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission, President Lowell fired them the week before Christmas without notice, and without payment to see them over the holidays. They were now destitute, some finding themselves out on the street.

For college students, beating up strikers was fun. I mostly know of this from the University of Washington, which has a similar history of empowering students to commit violence against strikers in the early 20th century.

And for Harvard this history remains relevant as it has forced its food service workers onto the picket lines. But hey, at least poor Harvard can still call on the Boston Globe to produce hackish pro-1% arguments.

The fact that Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust is a historian of the Civil War who is currently oppressing her own workers, many of whom are African-American, is to her eternal shame.


In Conclusion, Both Parties Are the Same

[ 94 ] October 6, 2016 |


As the world’s smartest and most politically brilliant person, Dr. Jill Stein, M.D., repeatedly shows, both parties are the same. Especially on labor law.

The Obama administration, in its latest effort to update workplace policies it says have lagged far behind the realities of Americans’ lives, will require federal government contractors to provide paid sick leave to their workers.

The rule, which was issued on Thursday and which the Labor Department estimates will directly affect more than 1.1 million people once fully in effect, enables workers to accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave a year.

“This is really part of a broader conversation across America about what a 21st-century social compact should look like,” Thomas E. Perez, the labor secretary, said in an interview. “Back in the day, when Beaver Cleaver got sick and June Cleaver was home, who takes off to stay with the Beav was a nonissue. In today’s world of dual-career couples in the work force, our public policy has not caught up.”

The move serves as a coda to the administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance rights and protections for workers, including making millions more eligible for overtime pay and expanding workers’ rights to sue over pay discrimination.

In recent years, more than 20 cities and states around the country have passed laws mandating paid sick leave, which voters generally support, polls show. New York City passed its own such law in 2013 and expanded it the next year. Republican-leaning Arizona appears on the verge of enacting such a measure by a ballot initiative this fall.

But legislation that would mandate paid sick leave nationwide, notably the so-called Healthy Families Act, has stalled in Congress for years, prompting the administration to seek alternative ways of achieving the policy’s goals.

The rule, which does not need additional approval, requires that workers in assignments related to many federal contracts receive one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, for up to 56 hours of leave a year. Workers will be able to use the days to receive medical attention, care for a relative or deal with complications arising from domestic violence or sexual assault. The rule affects only contracts solicited by the government beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

Recent data suggest that more than 35 percent of private-sector workers do not have access to paid sick leave.

Jill Stein is the only progressive hope against this bipartisan war on American workers!

Davis ’24!

[ 15 ] October 6, 2016 |


I still maintain the greatest mistake The Atlantic ever made was not going hardcore for John Davis in 1924.

It Is So Hard Being a Billionaire Baseball Team Owner

[ 87 ] October 5, 2016 |


Well, this truly justifies the impoverishment of minor league baseball players.

Yes, clearly the horror of paperwork, something billionaires could not possibly afford to pay $50,000 a year to a secretary to take care of, is a great reason to make your employees’ lives terrible.

How Supply Chains Shelter Corporations from Responsibility

[ 16 ] October 5, 2016 |


This story on cobalt miners for your phones is deeply disturbing.

The Post traced this cobalt pipeline and, for the first time, showed how cobalt mined in these harsh conditions ends up in popular consumer products. It moves from small-scale Congolese mines to a single Chinese company — Congo DongFang International Mining, part of one of the world’s biggest cobalt producers, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt — that for years has supplied some of the world’s largest battery makers. They, in turn, have produced the batteries found inside products such as Apple’s iPhones — a finding that calls into question corporate assertions that they are capable of monitoring their supply chains for human rights abuses or child labor.

Apple, in response to questions from The Post, acknowledged that this cobalt has made its way into its batteries. The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant said that an estimated 20 percent of the cobalt it uses comes from Huayou Cobalt. Paula Pyers, a senior director at Apple in charge of supply-chain social responsibility, said the company plans to increase scrutiny of how all its cobalt is obtained. Pyers also said Apple is committed to working with Huayou Cobalt to clean up the supply chain and to addressing the underlying issues, such as extreme poverty, that result in harsh work conditions and child labor.

Another Huayou customer, LG Chem, one of the world’s leading battery makers, told The Post it stopped buying Congo-sourced minerals late last year. Samsung SDI, another large battery maker, said that it is conducting an internal investigation but that “to the best of our knowledge,” while the company does use cobalt mined in Congo, it does not come from Huayou.

Few companies regularly track where their cobalt comes from. Following the path from mine to finished product is difficult but possible, The Post discovered. Armed guards block access to many of Congo’s mines. The cobalt then passes through several companies and travels thousands of miles.

Yet 60 percent of the world’s cobalt originates in Congo — a chaotic country rife with corruption and a long history of foreign exploitation of its natural resources. A century ago, companies plundered Congo’s rubber sap and elephant tusks while the country was a Belgian colony. Today, more than five decades after Congo gained its independence, it is minerals that attract foreign companies.

This is just what is basically the abstract of a long report. The whole thing goes deep into the massive exploitation in the rare earth industry. Just a bit from the details:

The diggers are desperate, said Papy Nsenga, a digger and president of a fledgling diggers union.

Pay is based on what they find. No minerals, no money. And the money is meager — the equivalent of $2 to $3 on a good day, Nsenga said.

“We shouldn’t have to live like this,” he said.

And when accidents occur, diggers are on their own.

Last year, after one digger’s leg was crushed and another suffered a head wound in a mine collapse, Nsenga was left to raise the hundreds of dollars for treatment from other diggers. The companies that buy the minerals rarely help, Nsenga and other diggers said.

Deaths happen with regularity, too, diggers said. But only mass casualties seem to filter out to the scant local media, such as the U.N.-funded Radio Okapi. Thirteen cobalt miners were killed in September 2015 when a dirt tunnel collapsed in Mabaya, near the Zambia border. Two years ago, 16 diggers were killed by landslides in Kawama, followed months later by the deaths of 15 diggers in an underground fire in Kolwezi.

In Kolwezi, a provincial mine inspector frustrated by a recent run of accidents agreed to talk to The Post on the condition that he not be identified, because he was not permitted to talk to the media.

He met the journalists in a minibus — jumping in, closing the door and taking a seat in the middle, far from the tinted windows so no one on the street could see him.

That morning, he said, he had helped rescue four artisanal miners nearly overcome by fumes from an underground fire in Kolwezi. The day before, two men had died in a mining tunnel collapse, he said.

He said he had personally pulled 36 bodies from local artisanal mines in the past several years. The Post was not able to independently verify his claims, but they echoed stories from diggers about the frequency of mining accidents.

The inspector blamed companies such as Congo DongFang that buy the artisanal cobalt and ship it overseas.

“They don’t care,” he said. “To them, if you bring them minerals and you’re sick or hurt, they don’t care.”

I’m going to repeat what I’ve said many times: If you want to end these horrors, you hold the companies at the top of the supply chain legally responsible for those supply chains. Let’s say we did that? Would those companies abandon the Congo because of this? No, because they can’t. Two things would happen. One, they would make it in the interests of the Chinese company managing this to make sure basic human dignity is upheld in the mines. Or two, the companies themselves could pool together and start their own investment in the mines to ensure they complied with the law. In this case, there wouldn’t be anything particularly competitive about the issue as they all need the same minerals.

The Post report is correct: There is no reason to think that Apple and the other tech companies will monitor their own supply chains. Whenever corporations can avoid any costs, they will do so. Monitoring these mines to make sure Congolese miners don’t die is an avoidable cost. They will never do it effectively unless we as consumers make them do it. As I call for in Out of Sight, we must fight for what I name a Corporate Accountability Act that ensures essential human rights for workers no matter where they labor if they are working for an American company or in a supply chain for an American economy. This is the ONLY WAY we stop this. In this case, there is only one answer. It’s legal responsibility. If we don’t believe in this, then we also hold personal responsibility for dead Congolese miners.

Trump’s Lies about Trade

[ 197 ] October 5, 2016 |


It’s a weird time for me. Out of Sight is a book of desperate outrage about capital mobility and how it has both destroyed the American working class and exploited people overseas. Of course Donald Trump is claiming he cares about NAFTA and trade. He doesn’t. There’s no evidence in his career that he cares at all about these issues. But he’s realized that it is a good piece of symbolism for the white nationalism he does care about and he’s realized that voters care about it. So he is demagoguing the issue. I am giving a couple of talks this semester about Out of Sight. I simply cannot let anyone come out of these talks and think “I am going to vote for Donald Trump.” I see no other way to deal with this that what I prefer to avoid in both teaching and public lectures–talking directly about who to vote for in an election. I gave a talk last week at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. And I included a new slide in the Powerpoint that was a picture of Trump (the one in this post) with my caption of saying this is not how to solve these problems. And some students walked out at that point. But I don’t really care. Because what else am I supposed to do?

Anyway, it’s always useful to remember that Donald Trump is lying when he says he cares about trade and American workers. He’s always been as happy to exploit labor as any capitalist.

“What he says really appeals to our members,” said Jim Johnston, President of USW Local 1219, which represents workers at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works. “But what he does is the total opposite.”

Along with other union officials at a Tuesday news conference outside the Braddock mill, Mr. Johnston noted a Newsweek report, which found that in two of Mr. Trump’s recent building projects he “opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania.”

“[H]e is not someone who ever attempted to lead by example,” concluded the magazine.

“Donald Trump pretends to be in the corner of steelworkers when the facts — as always with Donald Trump — show otherwise,” said Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a Democrat.

In a statement, Trump campaign senior policy adviser Curtis Ellis called the Newsweek story “false on its face. … The Trump Organization does not purchase steel — it works with contractors to build buildings. Those contractors follow the market, a market that the Chinese have exploited with subsidies, dumping and other predatory trade practices.”

“America’s steelworkers know that Hillary’s support of NAFTA and China’s entry into the WTO are responsible for job losses and devastation in their industry,” said the statement, referring to a 1990s trade deal and China’s entry into the global trade regime. “Mr. Trump’s comprehensive plan to cut taxes, reduce regulation, unleash our energy sector, and eliminate the trade deficit will bring good, high-paying manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.”

Among other things Trump is lying about, it’s that the one industry capital mobility, NAFTA, and Chinese entry into the WTO did not kill it was the steel industry. That was done in by a combination of the U.S. government wanting to boost the economy of its Asian allies, the lack of investment in new factories by the American steel companies, and other American businesses looking for new steel supplies because of the constant labor strife in the industry. But the truth doesn’t really matter in an election. Trump’s message is powerful. Five decades of American policymakers not really caring what happens to those who lose their jobs due to capital mobility creates a lot of people willing to believe anything that helps them understand their loss of social status and economic mobility. Trump and his lies about trade provides some of that.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 51

[ 51 ] October 4, 2016 |

This is the grave of Al Smith.


A lifelong resident of Manhattan, Al Smith was born in 1873. From a poor Irish Catholic family, Smith dropped out of school at age 14 to work in a fish market. He became involved in local politics and was a young star in the Tammany machine. He managed to avoid the corruption endemic to Gilded Age machine politics and combined with his excellent speaking style and connections to the immigrant community, he rose quickly. He was elected to the New York state assembly in 1904, where he served until 1915. Among his work there was allying with Frances Perkins to get building and safety reforms passed after the Triangle Fire. He left the assembly in 1915 to become sheriff of New York County and then became governor in 1919. He did not win reelection in 1920 but campaigning openly on the repeal of prohibition, won in 1922, 1924, and 1926. He mentored people ranging from Frances Perkins to Robert Moses in his administration. He was a relative racial progressive for a Democrat of the time and spoke out against lynching. He was also close to another young New York Democrat named Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Smith had run for president in 1924, but the party split between him and the prohibitionist William McAdoo. John Davis was the compromise candidate to get blown out by Calvin Coolidge. Smith managed to win the nomination in 1928, but was overwhelmed by a combination of anti-Catholicism and economic prosperity. Even with bad economic times, the deep anti-Catholicism of much of the Protestant population, especially in the Democratic southern base, probably would have doomed him. Hoover won 5 southern states that fall, something unprecedented for post-Reconstruction Republican candidates.

Roosevelt took over the governorship of New York from Smith, but this created a rivalry between the two once allies. They both wanted to be the Democratic nominee in 1932. Still, Smith worked to elect FDR after the latter won the nomination. Unfortunately, the New Deal made Smith apoplectic. At the core of Democratic Party ideology going back to the days of Jackson and Van Buren was a rugged individualism. The idea of big social programs like Social Security and laws like the National Labor Relations Act was hated by a lot of Democratic elites, and not only southerners like John Nance Garner. Smith turned on Roosevelt with embittered hatred. He voted for Alf Landon in 1936 and Wendell Willkie in 1940. Smith believed in cooperation with business and saw FDR as producing class warfare. Effectively, Smith became a man the times passed by. He died in 1944, at the age of 70.

Al Smith is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.

Yet Another Reason to Oppose the TPP

[ 48 ] October 4, 2016 |


Good lord, will the horrors of the Trans Pacific Partnership never cease?

By dramatically reconfiguring supply chains in food and processed food, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could see significant price falls, including more than 12% on ketchup imported from Chile to north American markets, according to a new UNCTAD study of the trade deal’s agricultural dimension. The study also said it would be complicated to assess the overall impact of the deal.

My god people. Will someone step up and stop this gooey surge engulfing the Pacific world?

Our Allies in Global Trade

[ 12 ] October 4, 2016 |


Sure the Department of Labor has placed the Vietnamese textile industry on its list of those industries using child and forced labor. But why let that stop us from implementing the Trans Pacific Partnership! Meanwhile, the U.S. will do absolutely nothing to actually stop this from happening. And let’s be clear–it very well could. The new law closing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff slave labor loophole is just one of many examples of how the U.S. govenrment actually does control the conditions of labor overseas for products imported into the United States. It could do a lot to ensure that kids aren’t making our clothes, including punishing American companies who are relying on this labor. But they don’t do that. Instead, they press through trade agreements that could allow Nike to sue Vietnam for lost profits if that country banned child labor. Free trade is everyone’s friend!

Gary Johnson, War on Drugs Hypocrite

[ 79 ] October 4, 2016 |


Gary Johnson may talk about how much he loves to smoke marijuana, and there’s no doubt that’s true. But that hardly means Johnson is in any way progressive in the War on Drugs, unless you consider a racialized exception for white people to smoke pot progressive. Because that’s about where Johnson has always been. I lived in New Mexico for the last two years of the Johnson administration. To say the least, he is the dumbest man I have ever seen in such an office, and that includes George W. Bush. But on the point, he’s always been horrible on prison issues. This post links to an Albuquerque Journal article from 1999:

‘Johnson acknowledged that some of his recent statements, including his belief that people shouldn’t be jailed for using drugs, appear to contradict his otherwise hardline stance on crime. During his 1998 re-election campaign, Johnson aired a tough-sounding television commercial in which he said if you commit a crime in New Mexico, you’re going to serve “every lousy second” of your prison sentence. “When I made that commercial, I’m thinking about the guy who’s got his gun out,” Johnson said. “I was never thinking about the guy who did heroin and that’s all he did. I wasn’t thinking about Robert Downey Jr.,” Johnson said, referring to the actor recently sent to prison on drug charges. [Italics mine—M.A.] Johnson said he would veto bills that required additional state spending for new drug-treatment programs because it could result in tax increases. Despite his belief that people should not be sent to jail for using drugs, Johnson said he does not intend to issue any blanket pardons for those serving time in New Mexico jails on drug charges.’

The scary guys. Not the rich heroin addicts. The scary guys.

Moreover, Gary Johnson himself instigated a prison riot by blaming inmates for the problems at a private prison run by his Wackenhut friends in Hobbs. He basically dared the inmates to riot. They did.

New Mexico State legislators in and near Hobbs, N.M., indicated that a statement made last week by Gov. Gary Johnson likely pushed inmates to the point of riot Tuesday night in Santa Rosa.

“I can’t believe it didn’t happen the next night,” state Sen. Billy McKibben, R-Hobbs, said. “I think what we’re seeing here is a direct result of irresponsible management.”

Johnson, a Republican, told reporters at a press conference last week he may be forced to remove state inmates from private Wackenhut Corrections Corp. prisons in Hobbs and Santa Rosa if the violence continues at current pace.

The governor made a similar remark Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

But state Corrections Secretary Rob Perry placed responsibility on the inmates involved.

“I think it’s time all of us … start holding these inmates accountable for this violence,” Perry told The Associated Press. “Because a little man from the moon isn’t coming down and killing other inmates and killing correctional officers. This is inmate conduct. It’s criminal conduct and it’s violent conduct.”

Officials have long said that inmates tend to prefer state facilities over private ones because of the extras offered at state penitentiaries.

Perry also said the political fight over prisons has probably increased tensions behind bars.

“There’s clearly a motive out there for these inmates who don’t want to be at these facilities because they don’t have the niceties that they’ve been accustomed to,” he told The AP. “And it’s a challenge on their part to capitalize on the attention that has been drawn to this issue.”

But New Mexico state Rep. Stevan Pearce, R-Hobbs, on Wednesday agreed with McKibben.

“For (Johnson) to make the public statement like that, it’s like waving a red flag in front of the system,” Pearce said. “I think it put pressure on a system that already is dealing with problems.

“I think it’s, ‘Hey, all we’ve got to do is cause one more disturbance and we get a new cell.’ ”

McKibben added that Johnson who did push for private prisons during his last term hasn’t been vocal on the issue recently until last week.

“That’s the first time we’ve heard anything from him on the prison situation,” he said. “It was almost a veiled invitation (for violence).”

Pearce and McKibben said the corrections department is partly to blame, as well, and McKibben, the state’s senior-most senator, called for legislative action.

“We’ve got a disaster on our hands here, and all (Johnson) can say is ‘The inmates are responsible,’ ” McKibben said. “It’s disgusting.

Wackenhut itself was responsible for the riot because of the horrible conditions in the prison. But then that’s the model that Gary Johnson wanted when he became a bought man of the prison industry in the first place.

Wackenhut faced withering criticism immediately following the riot. Corrections Secretary Perry and Public Safety Dept. Secretary Darren White accused the company of waiting at least an hour before informing state officials of the riot and Garcia’s death. They also said Wackenhut failed to notify the State Police and misled a state trooper who contacted the prison while the uprising was in progress, which led to a delay in sending response teams to the facility.

White called for an investigation into whether Wackenhut was criminally negligent in delaying reports of the riot. “I can tell you from my own standpoint I want to determine if the recent actions indicate a pattern and practice by Wackenhut which places public relations over public safety,” said White. “If we determine that this reluctance to notify law enforcement was part of a corporate policy, then someone could be exposed to criminal charges.” White warned that he could go “to the top of the corporate ladder.” He noted there had been a four-hour delay before Wackenhut reported the August 22 beating death of Orlando Gabaldon.

State lawmakers also condemned the company, questioning whether inadequate employee training and under-staffing had contributed to the riot. In state facilities the staff-to-prisoner ratio is 1:3, while at the Wackenhut prisons the ratio is 1:5. Also, it was later determined that Garcia, the slain prison guard, who had been on the job less than six months, was not fully certified as required under Wackenhut’s contract.

“All I can say is that we are really in an emergency situation and that the profit motive behind-privatization has surfaced and we are feeling its effect,” stated New Mexico House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. Wackenhut’s stock dropped $3.00 a share — 16 percent -the day after the August 31 riot.

A closed legislative hearing concerning the riot was held the same day as Wackenhut’s press conference. Dept. of Public Safety Secretary White departed early, saying Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon, who chaired the hearing, had a “blatant conflict of interest” because he is a paid consultant for Wackenhut. “It’s as ridiculous as the State Dept. holding a briefing on the Gulf War and having the Iraqis at the table,” White said of Aragon’s participation in the hearing.

Sen. Aragon, who strongly opposed prison privatization before being hired by Wackenhut in 1998, denied a conflict of interest, though he declined to say how much he was paid by the company and state disclosure laws do not require him to do so. Attorney General Patricia Madrid rejected a request by the chairman of the state Republican Party to investigate Aragon’s close relationship with Wackenhut.

Besides hiring Sen. Aragon as a consultant, Wackenhut employs former New Mexico corrections secretary Eloy Mondragon as warden of the Santa Rosa prison. Also, Wackenhut and corporate officers have donated $9,000 to Gov. Johnson’s election campaign and $5,000 to the state Republican Party. Four months before the Santa Rosa uprising, in April 1999, Gov. Johnson vetoed legislation that would have increased the state’s control over private prisons.

Gary Johnson, the clear progressive choice!

The Losers of Globalization

[ 126 ] September 29, 2016 |


It’s amazing to me that the media and policymakers, not to mention a whole bunch of commenters on this thread, are just waking up to the fact that globalization is not great for everyone, that there are real losers, and that dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements. It’s almost like we shouldn’t believe that corporate-generated policies will benefit everyone! And that’s not just in the United States, it’s not just in Mexico, and it’s not just in Bangladesh. It’s everywhere around the world.

But trade comes with no assurances that the spoils will be shared equitably. Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings have been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs, suffering joblessness and deepening economic anxiety.

These costs have proved overwhelming in communities that depend on industry for sustenance, vastly exceeding what economists anticipated. Policy makers under the thrall of neo-liberal economic philosophy put stock in the notion that markets could be entrusted to bolster social welfare.

In doing so, they failed to plan for the trauma that has accompanied the benefits of trade. When millions of workers lost paychecks to foreign competition, they lacked government supports to cushion the blow. As a result, seething anger is upending politics from Europe to North America.

In the United States, the Republican presidential aspirant Donald J. Trump has tapped into the rage of communities reeling from factory closings, denouncing trade with China and Mexico as a mortal threat to American prosperity. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has done an about-face, opposing an enormous free trade deal spanning the Pacific that she supported while secretary of state.

In Britain, the vote in a June referendum to abandon the European Union was in part a rebuke of the establishment, from laborers who blame trade for declining pay. Across the European Union, populist movements have gained adherents as an outraged response to globalization, imperiling the future of major trade deals, including a controversial pact with the United States and another with Canada.

“The trade policy of the European Union is paralyzed,” said the Italian minister of economic development, Carlo Calenda, during a recent interview in Rome. “This is a tragic situation.”

The anti-trade backlash, building for years, has become explosive because the global economy has arrived at a sobering period of reckoning. Years of investment manias and financial machinations that juiced the job market have lost potency, exposing longstanding downsides of trade that had previously been masked by illusive prosperity.

These are huge policy problems and Dylan Matthews and Annie Lowrey impinging the morality of those who point them out isn’t going to make them go away. The entire rhetoric around globalization coming from the elite class remains “this is awesome, we need more, let’s double down.” Yet nowhere through the last half-century of officially sanctioned capital mobility has the American government at the very least taken the disruption to the working classes seriously. I can’t speak to European responses in recent decades, although it’s clear the instability is also affecting those places. In the United States, globalization has happened part and parcel with unionbusting, with rapidly growing inequality, and with the creation of the New Gilded Age. The destruction of good American jobs as a result of globalization has had a very real negative affect on the American working and middle classes. If it has also meant cheap goods at Walmart, OK I guess except for the workers dying to make them, but the economic problems of the United States are very real. Inequality is a lit torch to previously existing racial and social divides. Ultimately, most people in your nation have to believe that life is getting better for them. If they don’t, they will act. That is what we are seeing in 2016. And those actions aren’t likely to be treat others in a very kind way.

This doesn’t mean that we can put globalization back into the box, even if we wanted to. But it does mean that unemployment, job creation for the very people who lose their jobs through globalization and automation, and the creation of a much more robust social safety net has to be a policy priority equal to or greater than passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it’s just not. In the United States, for a family to get even basic help other than standard unemployment insurance, they have to be truly struggling, to the point of not eating. That’s not acceptable. We are just starting to wake up to this as a problem. Meanwhile elites in both parties embracing more and more globalization, seemingly clueless to the terrible damage of communities at home, not to mention the exploitation of global workers. At least domestically, they are now beginning to pay the cost. We will see if they learn. I am skeptical and I fear for the nation’s future.

Stop and Frisk

[ 52 ] September 28, 2016 |


Simon Balto has a rejoinder to Donald Trump’s fearmongering call to institute stop and frisk policing in Chicago. See, Chicago has a long history with this. It’s not a good history.

Legally constructed in the 1960s, stop-and-frisk was forged in a political moment that, much like our own, was governed by racial fears and anxieties, and against a backdrop deeply contoured by a black-led movement that demanded the radical transformation of America. In Chicago, this was an age of black in-migration to the city, white hostility to the new black presence, a vibrant local civil rights movement—including a nearly year-long open-housing campaign partly led by Martin Luther King, Jr.—and, ultimately, a blowback that saw many whites retrench into steely resentment.

Guiding the police force against that tumultuous backdrop was Chicago Police Department Superintendent Orlando Wilson. Already a renowned criminologist when he took over the department in 1960, Wilson was a thoughtful man and, at least overtly, a steady racial moderate. Nevertheless, as a progenitor of what’s called “preventive policing,” Wilson aggressively called for proactive rather than reactive policing. Under this model, police departments shifted from a focus on responding to crimes already committed, and toward eliminating potential crimes by confronting “suspicious persons” on the street. In so doing, Wilson and others enacted policies that usually ended up singling out black communities as problem areas, and that saddled them with unique forms of surveillance and control. Stop-and-frisk was the centerpiece of this.

The fault lines were immediate. Within a black community that was becoming increasingly mobilized in response to racism and inequality, people could not have known that Chicago’s violent crime rates would get significantly worse after implementation of stop-and-frisk, but they suspected that crime rates would not be significantly improved. Moreover, many of them correctly forecasted that it would be black people who would overwhelmingly face the effects of stop-and-frisk. Black Illinois House member and future Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, the ACLU and others cited a litany of reasons for this – not least because black people were uniquely vulnerable to CPD officers harboring anti-black racism. This assertion received the strongest possible stamp of affirmation in 1967 and 1968, when a Ku Klux Klan cell that included the Illinois Klan’s Grand Wizard was found operating within the CPD.

But those arguments against stop-and-frisk drowned in a sea of favorable white opinion. Although it would not become official policy until 1968, the real breakthrough for stop-and-frisk in Chicago came in 1965 when a number of political processes collided to give the issue a particular saliency.

Superintendent Wilson, continuing to see stop-and-frisk as necessary police policy, ramped up lobbying efforts to get it protected by the courts as a legitimate police prerogative. Tellingly, the political leaders who were quickest to offer their support were from Chicago’s white suburban ring, not the city proper. Republican politicians from Melrose Park, River Forest and other suburbs led the initial charge to see a stop-and-frisk bill introduced into the state legislature.

Perhaps the most important booster in the long term, though, was Democratic Mayor Richard Daley, whom Wilson successfully recruited to the stop-and-risk cause that same year. Daley refracted stop-and-frisk through his own racial lens and used it to his own ends. He’d been bleeding white voters and was electorally vulnerable, and so stop-and-frisk appeared at that juncture as a way to win the trust of white voters who thought that he hadn’t been tough enough on race and crime. The holder of famously tremendous political clout in Chicago, he joined with Wilson to work across the partisan aisle for the bill’s passage.

The bill failed to pass through in 1965 and was vetoed by Democratic Governor Otto Kerner in 1967, but the coalition and the dynamics that would see it succeed were set in place. By 1968, the same year that the United States Supreme Court enshrined it into law in Terry v. Ohio, stop-and-frisk’s supporters saw it become Illinois law. It has persisted as a profoundly controversial policy measure ever since.

Of course everything Trump said about race in his debate was calculated to scare white people. It’s as if his entire view of the inner city comes from repeated viewings of Colors and New Jack City. Which it might. And given the number of white people who are scared of black people, he might ride that vision straight into the Oval Office.

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