Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Capitalism, Stupid

David Leonhardt's column in today's business section of the Times discusses how so many people in the middle and at the bottom were left out of the boom years. We all know the gap between rich and the rest of us has grown astronomical since the early 70's, the first time in US history this has happened.

So what are reasons according to Leonhardt? I'll let you read his theories here. But one word is missing from the entire article, not surprising given the bias at the Times: UNIONS.

Could it be that the attack on unions spurred on by Ronald Reagan's firing the air traffic controllers 25 years ago has weakened them so much that they can no longer win fights for the higher wages needed to sustain our economy? Add the Democratic Party support for NAFTA and other anti-union breaking rules under Bush and we have the roots undermining the economy in the long run.

As Leonhardt searches for solutions, he neglects the basic rule of capitalism: maximize profits for your company, the rest of the nation and the world be damned. That means the lowest wages you can get away with. If you can get 8 year-olds for 50 cents a day abroad, then bye.

The economy will only be robust when there's a strong union movement to fight it out with the corporations.

Note: I still consider myself a capitalist – a laissez faire capitalist – where there are rules that force a balanced playing field for people to compete. That is NOT what we have. Instead, we have a government, the theoretical arbiter, clearly aligned with the big business interests. And the press, the 4th estate that should also be an arbiter, also pro-business and anti-union. The "paper of record," whether covering business or education, is a prime example.


  1. As a laissez faire capitalist, how do you not support school choice? The inability of the unions to adapt to changing times like greater globalization isthe reason they're so incredibly weak now.

    A rational union would get much more done for its employees in the long run than the ones we have now. Even the Weingarten union is only reasonable by comparison to other unions.

  2. You missed my point. If we had laissez faire capitalism, I might. But we don't. In our current unfairly balanced system, the only thing a union can do is fiercly defend its members. As NYC edcuator wrote today, and a point you always ignore, principals can dey teachers tenure for not liking the color of his tie. It is so easy to write up insatisfactory observations. So, what;s stopping them and why add the testing factor when it is not necessary? The reason is to get the ideological high ground, not to make a difference to kids. And that in a nutshell is why I am so much against just about whatever BloomKlein do. If I thought they had the interests of the kids at heart, I might have bought into some of the things they did.

  3. Re: Empire State Becomes 1st In Nation To Eliminate Practice, Paving Way For Easier Tenure.

    I do not understand the above statement about tenure becoming easier. I do not believe test scores have been used for tenure in how can tenure now be easier. When I first started teaching I worked with a very experienced assistant principal who monitored me very closely. She would come in the room and randomly check student notebooks and observe lessons. She even taught me the proper way to make an "e"! I did not always agree with her kind of teaching, but she definitely trained me and made sure I was doing what I was supposed to for those 3 years. The administrators do have the ability to "weed" out teachers not up to the task before the 3 years is over. The fact is many teachers DO leave teaching before their tenure is granted. I would like to see statistics of how many teachers leave teaching in their first 3 years. Most people in general will not continue doing a job if they do not feel successful. The statement that 99% of teachers are granted tenure is not really a true picture because so many of the unsuccessful teachers leave before then. Lisa

  4. So which interests do you suppose Bloomberg and Klein have at heart? They've made very unpopular decisions in order to do what's right for kids; I can't imagine a better way to display that they have kids' best interests at heart.

  5. You tell me. Every single teacher in the NYC school system will give you a list longer than your arm.


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