15 February 2010

Unvarnished truth: why we should adopt the German model because the Right has destroyed our economy

There's a terrific short article in the March Harper's by prominent liberal labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan called Consider the Germans. (Unfortunately, not available online yet; and you may have to be a subscriber to read it online even after they post it). His key points are that it's the mixed-system in Germany, where workers are on every board, wage rates are publicly disclosed information and workers are involved in management even of small businesses (by law)-- that have made it possible for Germany to keep its Industrial base and manufacturing economy.  (Until recently, despite crowing about China, with less than a tenth the population, it was Germany that was the top exporter in the World). As he puts it, with mandatory 6 weeks vacation, "they're beating us with one hand tied behind their back."

Why? works councils, co-determined corporate boards, and wage setting institutions. Things we almost had in this country after the New Deal, but which our fundamentally rightist politics have done away with. But the reality is that the Ayn Rand-worshiping top-down American management system doesn't work well in a competitive world, and the German mixed system, where every corporate board is one-half controlled by worker representatives, works much better.

As Geoghegan says, maybe we'll decide one day, out of patriotism, that we have no other choice than to emulate this kind of system. This is the key to waking up American working people to the need to reform our economy through progressive legal change: it's patriotic because the fucking misguided right wingers have destroyed our economy. Decades of extraction in place of production have taken a toll. It is no coincidence that since 1974 productivity of American workers has grown steadily, but real wages have remained flat. The Extractive Caste has (mostly legally) stolen the margin of difference, while failing to invest to conserve American manufacturing production or capacity, American jobs, or the robust middle class, which is the foundation of our consumer economy. Of course, there's probably a more polished and effective way to frame these points to convey the message to the working people who need to wake up to reality, but that's the unvarnished truth for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gyromantic Informicon. Comments are not moderated. If you encounter a problem, please go to home page and follow directions to send me an e-mail.