Interesting. Last year the Public Strategies’ Public Trust Monitor conducted a survey on public trust in various institutions. Their data included:
58% trust the federal government to do what’s right.
42% trust corporations to do what’s right.
34% trust unions
32% trust Mitt Romney.
The Pew study, compared to that of Public Strategies, suggests unions may be gaining favor.
As Milton Friedman argued, labor unions benefit the organized at the expense of the unorganized. In a period of declining wages (caused by immigration, free trade) this disparity becomes intolerable to the unorganized majority. The only way labor can protect itself is through a national political organization. It’s the rules of the game that matter in the end (e.g. immigration and trade law and enforcement). It is silly to blame corporations for playing by those rules; they have to to survive.
Agree with the piece fully. Here is the key point that many on the hard progressive left don’t seem to understand: in the early 1930s big government had legitimately never been tried in this country before; it was a brand new experiment.
We’ve now had big and growing government for over 75 years (despite the rhetoric, it never went away in the “Age of Reagan”), so pretty much everyone has literally had a lifetime of experience with it.
Their idea that we can fix the problems by going to even more explosively massive government is literally dead on arrival with the people. What we will transition into is the tough question.
Well maybe. The optimism of the millennials, however, is as odd assortment of attitudes and illusions. They don’t trust government or big business, but the sort of self-reliance they exude is born of cynicism, and it is not the sort of thing that seems like to build social trust. Unions may well fall into the same “not to be trusted” category; these are conceived as large, hierarchical organizations. They are also associated with long labor contracts, which does not resonate with the flip-it mentality. Just like business types have wanted to flip assets–whether real estate or stocks or whatever–thus confusing making money with creating wealth, so younger people feel more comfortable with flipping jobs, using companies for networking purposes and resume building, and having no loyalty to mission or co-workers at all. This kind of self-reliance, again, does not build social trust, one of the rthree key elements in the genuine prosperity of any society. This to me is an interesting development that can move in several ways; it does not necessarily make me optimistic.
As a Millenial myself (and a somewhat disgruntled Obama voter – but only because he has not shown a single ounce of the “indepenence” needed to make tough choices) I agree with your comment on the nature of the so-called liberalism of my generation. Socially tolerant yes – and even perhaps concerned about other issues such as the envrionment, etc. But also strongly libertarian in other areas.
I am not prone to broad generalizations, but I do think that any residual “big government” admiration will slowly decline – especially when it comes to entitlements (regulations I’m not so sure of – too many lawyers for that). Entitlements and state support were nice, but were an abberation from the norm. The late 40’s – 60’s were an anomaly of US econonmic dominance given the utter destrution in the rest of the developed world. We could afford to be generous at that time, but not for long.
As Europe and Japan emerged in the 70’s, we adopted the policy of charging the national credit card. That option is now gone as our debt gets worse and worse. The argument that Social Security and Medicare are sacrosanct is flawed – you can’t provide a service without paying for it (1973-2008 notwithstanding). We live in an increasingly economically competitive world – unless another major war comes around to destroy a part of it or push some nations backwards (it’s happened before – World War One is just one example)
Neither party sees that while SS and Medicare may be the proverbial third rail, that only holds true for as long as the Baby Boomers are dominant. Generation X knows they might get a raw deal, but hope the crisis is delayed long enough so that they can enjoy the sunset. Regardless, their numbers were to small to take on the Boomers.
The Millenials are the children of the Boomers, and almost as large (where as Generation X is pitfully small in comparison). There is no way I see the idea of means testing or equitable benefit cuts, etc. being off the table for much longer. Whatever political party realizes that first will be the one I feel wins the future of this country.
I think the anti-union sentiment in the study is a product of two things:
1. right-wing propaganda, e.g. blaming GM’s failure on union wages, even though management was obviously awful
2. the general confusion and consternation in our society over how to deal with the pressures of globalization.
Indeed, our recent financial crisis was a product of globalization (falling wages, balance of trade, capital inflows) combined with financial deregulation (debt explosion). We just don’t know how to deal with globalization.
Anyway, even with respect to Mr. Mead’s professional obligation to be sanguine, his treating a coordinated, long-term public opinion operation on the part of the right as some sort of inevitable historical trend is a little bit too– Hegelian, let’s say, for my tastes.
Unions are monopolies and should be subject to antitrust laws and broken up.
The UAW killed the goose that lays the golden eggs, and has now found another goose (taxpayers).
Public service unions now constitute the majority of union members, having made private sector businesses un-competitive, they will now focus on making government less efficient.
A monopoly within a monopoly, you know that can’t be good, at least it won’t take long to crash and burn. Years rather than decades
lets write them until the admit it, or stop doing it! i am writing them now!