Thursday, November 03, 2011

There Were No Good Ole Days

In response to the Occupy folks sticking around for another month, actually changing the national conversation, and looking for more, Beverly Gage at Slate points to the history of American labor to show where such movements have faced violent opposition while bringing progress to the nation.

Not to disparage any of that, but I still say it would be easier for folks to organize and start going after local and state political governance. You can change an awful lot from a school board or a city council meeting, and you may not face the same violent reprisals you'd get on the streets.



suspect device said...

A. It's not an either-or situation. Why not both?

B. You can change a lot locally, but not federal bank bailouts or corruption on the level of Goldman Sachs or Enron. Have to aim higher for that.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

A. I'm arguing for the inclusion of both. Right now, and for a while, the wholesale focus has been on the big national problems while regressionary politics have dominated the local and state levels.

Long term progress and change on the big, national issues are only going to be sustained if there is a solid foundation of activism and organization at the local and state level. That builds the vigilant and vibrant political culture necessary for citizens to adqueately put checks on government power at all levels. We haven't had that in this country for a while.

B. One thing local and state level policy can do is to insulate a population and mitigate the risk from the excesses of big financial institutions and corrupt Federal structures.

For example, anti-speculation laws on the books in Texas kept their real estate market from being (as) overleveraged before the collapse. On the other hand, loose regulations among Georgia banks allowed many local startups to overleverage and then double down on flimsy real estate speculations. They colluded with state and local zoning and tax subsidies to create an effective real estate ponzi scheme. That's why more banks collapsed in Georgia than in any other state.

But those are just a few ways how local and state policy directly affect, maginfiy, or mitigate big, national issues.