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Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:09 PM

Krugman:if globalization makes an effective union movement impossible thatís a big problem. Does it?

This is mainly a data note to myself. But with trade becoming an issue in the election, I thought it might be useful to take on one myth: the supposedly necessary relationship between globalization and the decline of organized labor.

You hear this myth from both sides of the political spectrum ó from conservatives asserting that unions became unsustainable in the modern economy, and from protectionists on the left arguing that free-trade agreements killed labor.


Background: I am very much in the camp that considers organized labor an essential force for equality, both because it gets higher wages for ordinary workers and because itís a political counterweight to the power of organized money. So if globalization makes an effective union movement impossible, thatís a big problem.

But thereís evidence close at hand that the link is far from proven. More on this when I get around to a longer piece.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/14/a-note-on-globalization-and-labor/

It will more interesting to read the future 'longer piece' on this but his preliminary expression of doubt about the link between the two seems consistent with the strength of unions in countries that are more 'globalized' than the US - like Germany, Canada and Sweden - and the weakness of unions in the few countries that are less 'globalized' than the US.

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:16 PM

1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but ...

... "globalization" and "free trade" are myths and misnomers because while capital and materials flow freely across borders, labor cannot. Globalization as it currently practiced depends on a labor force that is essentially enslaved. If Chinese workers were free to travel anywhere in the world to earn their living, do you think that Wal-Mart would be chock-full of dirt-cheap Chinese goods?

Shall we talk about international trade unions?

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Response to Straw Man (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:38 PM

5. "Shall we talk about international trade unions?" Hell, yes! We have before and we should again.

Though nationalism and suspicion seems to 'trump' solidarity across national borders.

... capital and materials flow freely across borders, labor cannot.

Of course our far-right - through the decades from the John Birch Society to Trump - has been consumed by worry about 'open borders' for labor that do not exist in reality in North America. Just the thought of it sends them into spasms of conspiracy theory. Witness the North American Union.

To some extent Europe has gone down this path of permitting the mobility of labor on a continental - though not global - basis. The results have largely been positive - though there are problems with this policy too - with a lot of backlash from the European far-right like Le Pen, Wilders, Farage and others (their versions of Trump and the Birch Society).

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:21 PM

2. I look forward to this "longer piece"..

If the owners can pound on the terrorist-terror button hard enough, citizen to citizen communication will be monitored for threatening words and phrases like "organize", "union" and "cooperation"...


(rec)

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:28 PM

3. Workers of the world, unite!

 

Now where have I heard that before? Oh, right...

http://www.iww.org

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:30 PM

4. Globalization and "Free Trade" are two different things

We need to come to realize that "Free Trade" is an Orwellian term.

But what does one call the transfer of sovereignty over to robber barons?

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Response to Z_California (Reply #4)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:39 PM

6. The term "Free Trade" has become code for "Bullshit" over the past 30+ years.

When the crooked overlords and their bought and paid for crooked lawyers/politicians do the negotiating, the rest of us get it up the you know what.

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Response to Z_California (Reply #4)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 02:52 PM

7. 'Free trade' seems to mean different things to different people.

To some 'free trade' is only trade that is part of NAFTA or other 'free trade agreements' countries (20 countries in all).
To others it is all trade that is governed by the rules of the WTO membership without any 'free trade agreement' changes.
To still others it seems that all modern trade is 'free' including that with countries which do not belong to the WTO (22 countries, I think).

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 03:17 PM

8. I'm sorry, why is Krugman still being posted after his admission that he's a liar for globalists?

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/paul-krugman-raises-the-white-flag-on-trade/

Can we get a moratorium on posting articles written by cheerleaders for the conservative/globalist agenda? In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, but at this point shouldn't 'economist' be a disreputable profession? Economists have promoted the last 50 years of trade and it is a complete, utter, total failure based on all their 'models'. Or, rather, it was quite successful at what it was meant to do, which doesn't make them any less culpable.

I'll await Krugman's 'longer piece' when Soros and Koch finish deciding how they want it to read.

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Response to Shandris (Reply #8)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 03:48 PM

9. I am sorry that Krugman does not meet your high standard for liberal economists. Does anyone?

A Protectionist Moment?

Furthermore, as Mark Kleiman sagely observes, the conventional case for trade liberalization relies on the assertion that the government could redistribute income to ensure that everyone wins ó but we now have an ideology utterly opposed to such redistribution in full control of one party, and with blocking power against anything but a minor move in that direction by the other.

But itís also true that much of the elite defense of globalization is basically dishonest: false claims of inevitability, scare tactics (protectionism causes depressions!), vastly exaggerated claims for the benefits of trade liberalization ... Iíve always been clear that the gains from globalization arenít all that great ... less than 5 percent of world GDP over a generation.

The truth is that if Sanders were to make it to the White House, he would find it very hard to do anything much about globalization ó not because itís technically or economically impossible, but because the moment he looked into actually tearing up existing trade agreements the diplomatic, foreign-policy costs would be overwhelmingly obvious. ... Trump might actually do it, but only as part of a reign of destruction on many fronts.

But it is fair to say that the case for more trade agreements ó including TPP, which hasnít happened yet ó is very, very weak. And if a progressive makes it to the White House, he or she should devote no political capital whatsoever to such things.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/09/a-protectionist-moment/?_r=0

Economists have promoted the last 50 years of trade and it is a complete, utter, total failure based on all their 'models'.

Trade has not been a failure for Germany, Canada, Sweden and others because they have "redistributed income to ensure that everyone wins". Of course, they "redistribute income to ensure that everyone wins" from the domestic economy as well as that related to international trade. (Progressive taxes, business regulation, good safety nets and strong unions work wonders if a government supports them.) That is our failing, not our trade 'model'.

What 'model' for trade would you propose for the future? Do we negotiate new agreements with countries? Perhaps just bilateral agreements (as Trump proposes) so that we will always be the stronger partner to better dictate terms?

Or do we go all 'Herbert Hoover' (or 'Donald Trump') on trade and unilaterally raise tariffs - requiring us to withdraw from the WTO and all trade agreements (which the republican base would love to see us do) - essentially go back-to-the-future of 1920's era of republican trade policy that FDR reversed?

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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 05:22 PM

10. We need more globalized radical labor unions like the IWW

Labor unions should unite workers worldwide, not just in a particular country.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #10)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 10:39 PM

15. +1

(Certainly worth a kick) . . . . sounds dangerous

Surprised no response... Everybody's distracted by the primaries.





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Response to pampango (Original post)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 06:41 PM

11. Well considering how many union leaders in other countries

especially poorer countries have been killed for even trying to organize I think is a big problem.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 07:24 PM

12. History might show that labor organizers have been repressed and killed long before

globalization. FDR strengthened protection for labor organizers, not because he knew he would eventually liberalize international trade but because of the severe labor repression in the 1920's in a very UNglobalized American economy run by high-tariff, low-trade republicans.

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Response to pampango (Reply #12)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 07:39 PM

13. Of course, but it is a renewed issue today due to our empire's

need for cheap labor and no competition.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #13)

Wed Mar 16, 2016, 07:58 PM

14. Indeed it has occurred whether the economy is globalized or UNglobalized. n/t

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