The time has come for workers in the UK and US to campaign in unison for economic alternatives
This weekend, the British labour movement will be marching in London for a future that works. Two weeks later, in the United States millions of workers and their unions will be mobilising for our national election in critical states such as Ohio, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. These mobilisations may not seem surprising, but behind them lies a serious rethinking of the economic and political strategy on labour issues in both countries.
It was the UK and the US that gave birth to the economic ideas and the financial practices that led to the global economic crisis. Five years into the crisis, workers in both countries have paid a terrible price through lost jobs and incomes, while the incomes and assets of the wealthiest in both countries have largely recovered to their pre-crisis levels. But we have learned a few things from this experience.
The first is that working people cannot prosper in a financialised economy. The wealth generated by deregulated financial markets and credit bubbles has turned out over and over again to be a dangerous illusion. When the bubble bursts and the illusion fades, financial elites end up holding all the wealth that remains. These elites then have no desire to fund the investments our countries’ real economies need to be more globally competitive. In the US, the top 10% have ended up with all the income gains since 1998, and yet pay about 30% of their income in taxes – less than what the average household in the OECD pays.
Phi Beta Iota: Labor has no established party it can trust. Perhaps they should become Pirates?