« links for 2011-08-19 | Main | links for 2011-08-20 »

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"A Determined Campaign to Dismantle a Broad Societal Bargain"

 The erosion of the "grand bargain" is no accident:

The real grand bargain, coming undone, by Alexander Keyssar, Commentary, Washington Post: ...a century ago many, if not most, Americans were convinced that capitalism had to be replaced with some form of “cooperative commonwealth” — or that large corporate enterprises should be broken up or strictly regulated to ensure competition, limit the concentration of power and prevent private interests from overwhelming the public good. In the presidential election of 1912, 75 percent of the vote went to candidates who called themselves “progressive” or “socialist.”
Such views, of course, were vehemently, sometimes violently, opposed by more conservative political forces. But the political pressure from anti-capitalists, anti-monopolists, populists, progressives, working-class activists and socialists led, over time, to a truly grand bargain.
The terms were straightforward if not systematically articulated. Capitalism would endure, as would almost all large corporations. ... In exchange, the federal government adopted a series of far-reaching reforms... First came the regulation of business and banking... The profit motive could not always be counted on to serve the public’s welfare.
The second prong of reform was guaranteeing workers’ right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. ... The third ingredient was social insurance. ...
The regulation of business is decried now, as it was in 1880, as unwarranted interference in the workings of the market... [F]ierce attacks on unions since the 1970s contributed significantly to the sharp decline in the number of unionized workers... Meanwhile, the social safety net has frayed...
These changes have happened piecemeal. But viewed collectively, it’s difficult not to see a determined campaign to dismantle a broad societal bargain that served much of the nation well for decades. ... This agenda, moreover, calls for the destruction or weakening of institutions without acknowledging (or perhaps understanding) why they came into being. ...

    Posted by on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 01:08 AM in Economics, Politics, Social Insurance | Permalink  Comments (73)


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.