Trumka Takes on the 'Neoliberalism' that Broke U.S. Economy

In Tuesday's live Web chat, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talked about what we need to do to fix our economy in both the short term and the long term--and touched on a vital, too-infrequently discussed issue: the need to end the stranglehold neoliberal economic thinking has on our politics.

Spurred by Milton Friedman and other economists, the neoliberal agenda is based on the radical principle that it's markets, not people, that matter most. By nature, the neoliberal principle is hostile to collective bargaining, public regulation and all manner of ways to leverage community power to balance out the power of wealth. Trumka sums up Friedman's poisonous political philosophy:

He believed that anything that got in the way of the free market was something that was bad and should be eliminated. Any regulation on business is bad, so get rid of it; any tax on business is bad and distorts the marketplace, get rid of it. A union is bad and distorts the marketplace, so you have to get rid of it.

For the last 30 years, that's the system that we've had here. It brought us to this crisis.

Trumka says the labor movement needs to get back at the forefront of economic policy, including monetary, fiscal and industrial policy. Unions need to lay out a clear new economic agenda that will work better and stand as an alternative to the markets-first, people-later neoliberal agenda.

That means building an economy in which the financial sector works on behalf of the real economy--not the other way around. It means listening to the needs of working families, not pundits and corporate shills who claim that good jobs with living wages and benefits are "bad for the economy." It means we don't let big bankers reap profits from destructive speculation and pass the risks and the consequences on to us. It means that wages, not debt, drives the economy.

One of the top priorities for the AFL-CIO, Trumka says, is to educate union members--and candidates for office--about economic policy. Working people must be players in economic policy, so that we can create an economy that benefits everybody, not just those at the very top.

You can watch more of Trumka's conversation with union members and working family activists here. Our five-point jobs plan is here.

This is a cross-post from Firedoglake.

Tags: AFL-CIO, Economy, jobs, Labor, Richard Trumka, Unions (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Re: Trumka Takes on the 'Neoliberalism' that Broke

Good post. Thanks!

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: from Raw Story

hidden for plagerism

by QTG 2009-12-18 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: from Raw Story

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by Ravi Verma 2009-12-18 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: from Raw Story

So plagiarism is OK? I'll uprate.

by QTG 2009-12-18 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: from Raw Story

< blockquote > insert text here < blockquote >

Now don't insert a space between <b- - - e> and < - - -e&gt

Look up basic HTML tag rules.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: gracias

silly me, I gave you the wrong tags

< blockquote > insert text here < /blockquote >

There are no spaces between the greater than or lesser than signs.

But you need a / to close the tag.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Trumka Takes on the 'Neoliberalism'

If Obama intends to take us into just another era of 'Neoliberalism', and the compromise medical care bill seems to fit the notion of qualified Neoliberalism, then the left wing needs to make itself heard even louder and hope that Obama is listening. Otherwise, I can't imagine that that left wing blogosphere money that sprung him into office will be there next time around.

by MainStreet 2009-12-18 09:15AM | 0 recs

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