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economics as if workers mattered

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Elections and polytricksters

The election results are in, and the Republicans have taken control of the U.S. Senate and strengthened their control in the House. The pundits are falling over themselves in glee over the prospects of bipartisan compromises on the core issues which Obama and the Republocrats agree: cutting corporate taxes and “free trade” agreements designed to ensure that goods and money can romp around the world wreaking their destruction, even as borders ever more closely resemble prisons for actual people.

Some folks love elections, others figure, in the words of Idaho Blackie, that if God had wanted us to vote he’d have given us candidates. But the results are not simply a result of the truly appalling “choices” put on offer — choices so appalling that most people quite sensible decided they’d rather stay home.

No one should make the mistake of confusing these results with the will of the people. Leaving aside the very real issue of gerrymandering (historically, Democrats actually have been gettingĀ more votes for the House than have their counterparts on the Republican side, but fewer seats; in Pennsylvania the Dems recently took the Governor’s seat by a substantial majority, even as the Republicans tightened their hold on both houses of the legislature), the fact remains that there is no correspondence between what folks want and which candidates win. This is made quite clear by the dramatic victories for higher minimum wages everywhere it was on the ballot, including in states where Republicans who want to abolish the minimum wage ousted Democrat incumbents who ostensibly (words speak louder than actions?) wanted to raise it, though they did nothing to make that a reality.

There may be no area in modern society where the average person has less influence than in the electoral arena. Nonetheless, we can look forward to intensified assaults on workers’ living standards and basic rights, as both parties agree that we have no rights which our employers should be required to respect. Only if we organize and fight to defend our interests will there be any prospect of slowing the assault, let alone improving our condition. The limit of our oppression is determined not by the ruling class (they know no limits), but rather by our resistance.