Borrowed Title, Missing Bits, Worthy Restatement of the Threat to Labor,
1) Limits to Growth and need for Ecological Economics (Club of Rome, Herman Daly);
2) Global Reach of Multinational Corporations and the Home-Host Country Issues and Threats to Domestic Labor and Social Welfare (Barnett)
3) Need for World Government to address global issues (Falk).
This book is valuable for its one main point reiterated and documented over and over again: the American elite has joined with other elites world-wide to reach accommodations that favor the investors and the ruling elites over the individuals that are employees.
If I had not also read William Greider’s The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy as well as John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and (over two decades ago), Lionel Tiger, Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System I might have seen this book in a different light. In the larger context of the 700+ books I have reviewed at Amazon, this book sums up a key factor that the public must consider when going to elect its leaders over the next few years.
As the author documents and discusses, the combination of neoliberalism and neo-conservatism has led to government being in the service of corporations and the wealthy, rather than the public and especially the working public. The author suggests, citing another author, that the working class is 62% of America, the middle class 36%, and the ruling class 2%. He also notes that America is no longer a mobile society, with 77% of the people “stuck” in their parent’s rut, and with wages now BACK to where they were in the 1970’s–in other words, no real gains in quality of life or purchasing power across the land.
The author spends a great deal of time on NAFTA, and his views are all negative. He is passionate on the topic of Mexico being a socio-economic bomb waiting to explode, and on how NAFTA and the deliberate tolerance of illegal immigration have essentially served as a pressure value, where the US imports poverty from Mexico in order to keep it from a worse explosion.
The author is quite provocative when he examines the “rescue” of Mexico by Secretary of the Treasury Rubin. He “follows the money” and discovers that the U.S. taxpayer did not bail out Mexico per se, but rather Goldman Sachs and all the other investors in Mexico, investors who were supposed to evaluate risk and take risk and accept the consequences, but instead used their Goldman Sachs brother in arms to bail them out at taxpayer expense. Today of course President Bush has just appointed another Goldman Sachs leader to be Secretary of the Treasury (after the more honest Paul O’Neil resigned when he discovered that Vice President Dick Cheney was making all the policies without regard to the Cabinet process (see my review of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill)
The author is compelling in discussing how the Reagan Revolution broke the backs of the labor unions and also broke up the postwar social safety nets. The author discusses how there is no corporate mind-set that puts the home country, the USA, first. He discusses at length how we are coming off decades during which multinational corporations, aided and abetted by their class collaborators in government and the media, have essentially broken the social contracts with each country’s public, and disconnected their global investments from any social benefit for labor.
The author is very illuminating when he points out that it is NOT China that is flooding the US with cheap goods, but rather Wal-Mart and Wall Street, investing US dollars in China to leverage low-cost Chinese labor while off-shoring jobs and driving both salaries and quality down across the board within the USA where Wal-Mart has been proven to destroy small businesses for 50-100 miles around any one of its main stores (see my review of both the DVD Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and the book The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works–and How It’s Transforming the American Economy).
The author is an optimist and an idealist, and I will end my review with a quote that I hope a future enlightened President will support. The author says on page 246:
“To this end, a conference, or congress, of North American civil society, state and local officials and representatives of labor, and small businesses, should be held every year. One of its functions would be to do a public review of the state of continental integration and to discuss, debate, and make proposals for the future.”
I am reminded of Falk’s genius in knowing in the 1970’s that we would one day need global council for both religions and peoples. Government has failed to be just or to represent the public. This book comes at a good time. In America, November 2006 is a necessary pre-requisite to electoral reform and getting an honest wise President and a Coalition Cabinet in 2008. To do that, enough people have to vote so as to defeat the extremist Republican skill at stealing elections that are close. It has to be a landslide.
I venture to say tha there is a very tight connection between Congress being broken and corrupt, and the global class war. Labor unions and the middle class have been rolled back, standards and protective regulations have been rolled back, and on every front, “We the People” have been abused by those we have entrusted.
EDIT of 10 Dec 07: As I write this, Lou Dobbs on CNN is urging every American to register as an Independent, and Jim Turner, #2 Naderite, is telling me he hopes 100 million Americans will come back to vote the two broken parties out of office. Amen!