If capitalism ever dies in the United States — as many believe it will — it won’t be caused by labor unions, liberals, environmentalists, civil rights activists or just plain do-gooders.
Rather, the death of capitalism will be the fault of the corporations themselves — especially the multinationals –which are reaping record profits, while paying their workers less every year. They get away with this because unions — which set wage standards for all workers, union and nonunion — are being slowly hammered into submission by the constant, aggressive attack from right-wing zealots seeking annihilation of the labor movement.
Unions now represent less than 12 percent of the nation’s workers, split about 50-50 between the public and private sectors. In the 1950s, 35 percent of all U.S. workers were represented by unions. In those days, wages were increasing and the union haters whined about the so-called “wage-price spiral.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has made it legal for any outside group to contribute money to support cadidates through a Super Pac–which must disclose the identify of its donors–and/or so-called “social welfare groups” whose donors can remain anonymous.
This has unleashed a tidal wave of corporate and private dollars that are now flooding the electoral system. Republicans, because they are mostly supported by corporations and wealthy individuals, probably get more than 95 percent of that money.
That’s a problem for workers, because that money can also be used to corrupt Democrats, most of whom have in the past relied largely on union financial support to run their campaigns.
Unions and their members simply can’t match the huge amounts of money now accessible from giant multinational corporations and rich people — such as the Koch brothers, who are hell bent on destroying the middle class.
Before Citizens United, the business community outspent unions by 12 to 1 in state and federal elections. The gap is expected to increase by 25 to 1 in 2012, and will eventually grow exponentially, possibly to 100 to 1.
What happens to Democratic candidates who are being outspent by that magnitude?
Or they go to the other side and become Republicrats, which some of them — the so-called bluedogs — are already.
While Democrats, for the most part, have been passively supportive of labor’s issues, they have refused over the years to provide enough votes to pass legislation that would have been the most meaningful to working families.
Even when they controlled both houses of Congress, or the White House and both houses of Congress, they were unable to achieve passage of any major labor law revisions, which are necessary just to maintain current living standards of both union and nonunion workers The congressional defeats have always come when key Democrats voted against the best interests of working families.
In 1965, Democrats provided the decisive votes in the congressional defeat of Section 14B of the Taft-Hartley Law that allows states to pass anti-worker “right-to-work” laws. In 1976, Democrats helped defeat a situs picketing bill, which would have lowered barriers to union organizing.
During the Clinton administration, Senate Democrats were instrumental in defeating a bill that would have prohibited employers from employing strikebreakers. And in 2009, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have helped all workers, died in the Senate when key Democrats voted against the bill.
Labor never gets subsidies, tax loopholes, breaks and credits or earmarks, which Republicans, often aided and abetted by some Democrats, take for granted.
How attentive will Democrats be to the issues of working men and women if they are forced to accept more and more campaign funds from corporations just to stay even?
Supporters of Citizens United will then have achieved their goal. They will have co-opted and corrupted the Democratic Party and destroyed the middle class in the process.
It’s hard to imagine the capitalistic system surviving without a middle class—those millions of people buying goods and service on earnings of $35,000 to $75,000 a year.