Why I support unions

Brandeisa

Brandeisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was young and naive, I supported the arguments of those who criticized unions. I think that I have heard every possible argument against unions and I bought into them wholeheartedly at one time. At some point in my life, I was exposed to the thought of Louis Brandeis, who was an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. He argued that a healthy and vibrant middle class was essential to a well-functioning democracy, which I support.

Now there are those who contend that the US is a republic, not a democracy. In my opinion, that is a distinction without a difference. It is a guiding principle around the world in democracies of universal suffrage, one man, one vote. Those who raise the difference between a republic and a democracy are the people, in my opinion, who support a property qualification for the right to vote. It is an argument that has simmered since the founding of democracy in ancient Greece.

Therefore, a healthy democracy requires a healthy middle class and the middle class in the US is under attack and fast disappearing. The US had a healthy and growing middle class in the 1950s and subsequent decades when we had strong unions. As union membership declined and unions came under sustained attack from the 1%, the middle class started to shrink. Both a shrinking middle class and shrinking union membership continue to this day. Therefore to preserve our democracy, we must encourage union membership which in turn will preserve and enlarge the middle class.

Brandeis argued, and I agree, that we can have a great concentration of wealth or democracy, but both at the same time. In theory, it is possible to have economic opportunity without unions. However, in practice individual workers must band together in order to withstand the economic might of concentrated wealth, either in corporate or private hands. It is possible to list union abuses at length, but that is not sufficient reason for limiting or abolishing unions. It is sufficient reason for reform, but the preservation of the middle class and the rescue of our democracy from the 1% are of paramount importance.

Think about it this way as a pyramid. At the base are the citizens with the right to vote and a need to work. Some are organized into unions which negotiate certain rights for their members which influence rights for all workers. Above them is a layer, the middle class, supported by the health and strength of the workers beneath them. Above the middle class is the 1%. And above all of them is an umbrella representing our democracy shielding all of them from the slings and arrows of fate.

P. S. Age discrimination, although illegal, is widespread in the US. In my opinion, unionization is the best protection that anyone can have against age discrimination.

Please see Unions are good for democracy | Supreme Court | Freedom | Dynasty

Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

I was thinking about the US Supreme Court, one of our three co-equal branches of government. With the retirement of John Paul Stevens in 2010, the Court no longer has any outstanding members. I do not know the complete history of the Court; however, the two members of the Court I hold in highest esteem are John Marshall and Louis Brandeis.

John Marshall was Chief Justice from 1801 to 1835. His decisions and policies set the precedents that still guide the Supreme Court. During the Revolutionary war, Marshall served with Washington and later wrote a multi-volume biography of his friend. He served as Secretary of State under John Adams and functioned as president when Adams was out of the capital. That was the custom then before the vice-president took over that responsibility.

Louis Brandeis served as an Associate Justice from 1916 to 1939. After he resigned from the Court, he devoted his full-time energies to the cause of establishing Israel. Before Brandeis joined the Court, he was America’s highest paid lawyer. However, he devoted only 50% of his time to earning money. The other 50% was devoted to social causes where he did significant good for no charge. He was a pioneer in using economic data to promote his legal cases before the courts. He changed how cases were argued before the Supreme Court, and after joining the Court, he  helped change how the Supreme Court decided cases. In my estimation, two admirable Justices.

Please see Freedom

999 tax plan

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, speak...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday evening I was clicking around the dial looking for baseball when I happened upon the Mike Huckabee show where he was talking to Herman Cain about his 999 tax proposal. I stopped to watch and learn. I like Mike, but I disagree with much of what he says.

Herman Cain explained that the 999 tax plan is composed of a 9% tax on corporate profits, a 9% tax on individual incomes, and a 9% VAT, Value Added Tax, a national sales tax, which is severely regressive. Payroll taxes would be eliminated, no Social Security or Medicare taxes. No taxes equals no programs, I guess. Herman may intend that Social Security and Medicare be privatized, but that is the same thing as no programs. Herman also told Mike that the 999 tax plan is a pathway to the FAIR tax which I also oppose.

In addition, the 999 tax proposal would eliminate the progressive income tax, the fairest tax I believe, and the capital gains tax, and the inheritance tax, the so-called death tax. I oppose the elimination of the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax and here is why.

The wealthy receive most of their income from capital gains and making capital gains tax free would mean that the wealthy would pay little or no taxes. Secondly, eliminating the inheritance tax would allow the wealthy to pass their wealth from one generation to the next untaxed and undiminished. That would create wealthy dynasties in the US that would allow the wealthy to purchase influence in Washington from whomever we elect forever. As it stands now, only the wealthy pay inheritance taxes; it is not a tax that faces the 99%, just the top 1%.

Louis Brandeis was an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. He argued that you could have great concentrations of wealth or democracy, but not both at the same time. I agree, and I favor democracy, not great concentrations of wealth, either in private hands or corporate coffers.

Please see Herman Cain | FAIR tax not fair |  I am weary