“No guarantee” is a guarantee

John Barrett

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett collectively own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans according to Forbes Institute for Policy Studies.

92 percent of all newly generated wealth goes to the top one percent of income earners.

Simultaneously, there are over 636,000 homeless people in the United States—over 67,000 of which are veterans according to USC School of Social Work. 

It’s amazing how we as Americans have collectively bought into the idea that this is just how things are.

We’ve always been told there are haves and have-nots, and there always will be.

Clearly, the owner class has to sell working people this script to continue to run a hegemonic capitalist economy in order to retain their iron grip on power.

Here’s a novel idea—all human beings are inherently valuable and deserving of a dignified quality of life.

This is, in fact, so novel that many western European nations designed their economies around this principle.

Nordic countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway have mixed-market economies.

They all have robust private sectors along with a thorough social safety net.

Conservatives will often cite that these countries don’t even have minimum wage laws.

But conservatives shy away from why that is—they have a functioning welfare system that fundamentally separates them from the United States.

These nations all have collective bargaining mandates from their federal government.

This concept is also called “Unions For All” in which all occupations, regardless of whether they are wage-earners, salaried employees or independent contractors have powerful, legally-protected unions. 

Labor unions in the United States have no teeth compared to the ones we see overseas, and it is one of many reasons that the working-class standard of living is so much higher in these nations.

Unions, where they do exist, are the backbone of our nation.

Union laborers built our infrastructure, assembled our cars, taught our children and so much more.

This past month, the United Auto Workers enter into a strike that lasted 40 days and finally wrestled General Motors management into a contract that was fair for workers.

Yet, there is no guarantee for all workers in all professions.

Consequently, a crisis exists in people who work for starvation wages in unskilled sectors of the economy.

In the wealthiest nation on earth, it should be impossible for any human being to work full time and still be below the poverty line.

Collective bargaining through statutorily-guaranteed unions would make massive strides toward bettering the lives of working-class Americans.

If economic elites like Bezos and Buffet have as much power as they do in this country solely because of their wealth, it’s time all working people got an equal seat at the boardroom table as well.