Last week, the United Auto Workers reached a deal with Stellantis to re-open an idled Belvidere Assembly Plant. "We made them invest," said transformational UAW President Shawn Fain.
And the Biden NLRB is the most pro union incarnation in any recent administration.
The message to unions is clear: in the most favorable political climate of a generation, strike now because you may never have a chance this good again.
Excellent history lesson, and context for the painfully slow reawakening of the autonomy of Americans.
This is a *terrific* post. I've never read brief summary that so clearly offers a framework to understand how rent-seeking has displaced manufacturing as a business strategy, and the way ideology, legislation, and regulation (or the withholding of it) have combined to enable--or promote--this shift.
I'll reread this tomorrow and learn more: it's too rich to take it all in at once.
👏👏👏👏 Thank you, Lee! Succinct historical analysis. Matt, you deserve many 👏 for your awesome choice during your well deserved leave. Finally, Jack Welch 🤬.
Born in the early 40’s I grew up when high taxes and strong unions keep limited the rich from obtaining the concentration of wealth they have today. The greedy got tired of paying taxes and bought our congress to stop enforcing any laws that prohibit monopolies. This permitted corporations to consolidate giving them market power to charge monopoly prices to obtain greedy profits. Our politicians and greedy corporations have destroyed the American economy in the last 40 years. The rich destroyed unions taking away workers ability to fight capital for their fair share of profits. All this led to the massive transfer of wealth from the working and middle class to the 1%. I have wanted a long time to see America wake up to the greed of the wealthy. Unions made American great and will again.
Shawn Fein for President in 2028.
Jack Welch was one of the most pernicious CEOs in American history. What's worse, every major MBA program in America modeled their programs after his disastrous policies. Politicians were in awe and enabled the financialization of the world. Jack Welch's ghost is thriving in private equity firms as they continue the carnage.
Jack Welsh needs to be cancelled, accolades destroyed, and MBA programs scrapped and rewritten.
Absolutely fascinating. This was a great read for someone with only a minimal understanding of historical labor/corporate politics like myself.
Inspired me to take a similar perspective in my own work surrounding nursing and the US healthcare system.
Appreciate the work!
Wow, very educational ! One thing that occurs to me is why isn't there a movement or a politician willing to write a law to to end stock buybacks ? Seems like a pretty evil easy to understand thing to stop. And why no movement to ban private equity which seems like pure self-devouring capitalism ?
From my childhood memory, unions were only truly established when FDR was preseident. Prior to that the effort to unionize was met with violence - and then finally the depression. So it's not surprising that unions and their leaders in the first genuine establishment of unions were not thinking of running a business but working for fair wages and under decent conditions. By the time Jack Welch came around, businesses were back to the scrooge mode. But union officials and workers have benefitted from the broader discussion of business and economics. And many union workers have more than a high school education. But however it happened, hats off to the unions.
Excellent synopsis of this horrendous policy that has virtually killed labor and therefore it’s many many workers who have paid the price for the last 40 years. Let’s hope the new anti-trust enforcement and the successful union organizing and dare I say winning continue unabated.
This is so refreshing. Now all we need to do is clear out the elites who've been running this monopolistic grift for decades, and start again. With a world where capital serves the people, not the other way round.
When a corporation's stock can be shorted down to nothing in seconds, how do you get a CEO to think past this quarter? And when pension plans, 401(k) accounts and even manager bonuses are vauled in stock, what's a mutual fund manager to do when he hears that a company is going to pull the dividend and build a new plant? The guys managing CALPERS will do what they're supposed to do as a fiduciary, they'll sell. Because they aren't going to risk the school teacher's retirement on a bet that reshoring will pay off in the long run. Maybe they'll get back in after the bet pays out, but by pricing the stock down they're going to kneecap the "responsible" CEO. So the only other choice is to get Uncle Sam to pony up the dough for the project, and that's full of moral hazard and strings attached. But maybe with the federal government backstopping the project the fund guys won't bail.
Tough choices. No easy answers.
"distant financiers who control our lives and communities have overstayed their welcome."
Hear, hear. Crush these weasels, make them flee in disgrace, and then reinstitute every New Deal-era constraint on them, such as Glass-Steagall, and infuse it with steroids. Then, make it crystal-clear to these people that prison awaits them if they attempt to skirt or undermine the law. Go Wright Patman on them good and hard.
Nicely written--I surprised you didn't mention GE's demise in recent years, driving home Jack Welch's legacey and, in turn, that of a failed macro economic policy going back 40 or 50 years.
Excellent post, which answered so many questions I had on how and why the US stopped making things. As an aside, there is a Walter Reuther Freeway in Detroit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_696
This is a great point. There are many ways to skin a cat, and there are many ways to invest in thriving local communities. Government subsidies and direct investments are just one way. Empowering people is another, potentially better way.