Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The "Obama Way": Corporatism

This post examines 2 essays written in response to Obama's State of the Union speech.

First, William Black describes many paradoxes and oversights in Obama's speech. One theme described by Black is Obama's big push for new and better educators. No mention is made at all in Obama's speech about how strapped school districts facing never-ending budget cuts are going to pay for these teachers when they cannot even keep the ones they have because of budget-enforced layoffs

If Obama really valued education he would push for a second stimulus targeted at k-university education. In its absence, more schools will be closed, more students will be packed into each class, and more teachers will look to other occupations, even in this job market, to escape the increasingly stressful environment of public education.

Second, Shamus Cooke describes the fundamental hypocrisy in Obama's decision to appoint former GE CEO Immelt as head of his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness:

Cooke writes: "Even more shocking was the announcement that Obama was creating a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, headed by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, a sworn enemy of working people. The New York Times noted that the "... the company [GE] has closed 29 plants in the United States and one in Canada in the past two years, eliminating more than 3,000 jobs." (January 22, 2011).

"Meanwhile, GE exports have risen in recent years, due to its effectiveness in driving down its workers’ wages, as much as $10 an hour.

"And this is precisely why Obama chose the CEO of General Electric to promote his new economic policy. Obama intends to turn the United States into the exporting nation it once was, as a way to deal with the Great Recession. He has repeatedly stated that he intends to boost exports by "five fold,” which can only be achieved by following the ruthless policies of General Electric: layoffs, reduced wages and benefits, reliance on part-time workers, and so on.

"Increasing exports requires that U.S. workers make far less than they do currently if the corporations are going to hold onto their massive profits...

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