At 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 19, Les Leopold will give a presentation, What Happened to the American Dream, at the Wilmington ILA Union Hall, 1305 S. Fifth Ave. The public is invited.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20, Leopold will reprise his presentation at UNCW, with a Q+A session to follow.
Daniel Buffington wrote in the Wilmington Star News this week:
“The title of Al Hunt’s Sept. 4 op/ed column, “Flat wages drive instability,” points out how American workers have been left out of economic growth over the past 40 years and the dangers that represents. Workers have not shared in the prosperity; corporate profits and the pay for CEOs have skyrocketed, but this increase has not trickled down to us.
Why? The major reason is that American workers have no bargaining power. Before the 1930s, workers had little power to improve their wages and working conditions. The result was runaway inequality, much like today. In the end, this was a major cause of the Great Depression.
Then two things happened. There was a huge surge in union organizing with the birth of the CIO, and Franklin Roosevelt won the 1932 election and delivered on his promise of a New Deal. Workers won the 40-hour work week, benefits like paid vacations, health insurance and pensions. The government passed Social Security and created huge public works programs.
Over the next 40 years, the U.S. saw the growth of the largest and most prosperous middle class in history. But starting in the 1970s, both the unions and the New Deal came under attack from conservatives. They claimed that cutting taxes for the wealthy, busting unions and doing away with New Deal programs would lead to rapid economic growth that would benefit everyone. It didn’t.
When workers lost their seat at the negotiating table and their political power in elections, the share of our wealth going to middle class went down, while the percentage of income going to the very wealthy went up. The result – runaway inequality.
Labor activist Les Leopold has written an excellent book describing the causes and consequences of “Runaway Inequality” and what we can do to reverse it.”
Les Leopold is making an appearance at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington on September 20th. The campus newspaper reviewed his book, Runaway Inequality, recently. You can read the whole review here.
The takeaway quote is:
“If we all were to talk about this inequality and how it not only affects you but everyone you know, people would start to listen. If more people read Leopold’s book and understood where all the money was “disappearing” to, people would voice their frustrations. No movement for change is done in a small fashion. It might start out that way, but it takes people from all walks of life fighting for equality to actually achieve it.”
From the Austin DSA Newsletter, July 2017
Austin DSA Members Participate in CWA “Reversing Runaway Inequality” Workshop
Reported by David Pinkham
On Saturday, July 8th at the bright and early hour of 8 A.M., Colin Gray and I, cramming our faces with cold coffee and Clif bars, carpooled down to Southwest Austin and managed to arrive about eight minutes late to the regional Communication Workers of America office where Kris Raab would be leading us on a journey through the past in order for us to understand how we reached the economic present.
She began the class by dredging our collective memory for a history of progressive movements. We discussed the common social, political, and economic threads that ran through all of these historical moments. This brought us to the inevitable pushback–“The Powell Memo.” In 1971, corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell issued a calling-all-capitalists manifesto in which he outlined the need for a broad coalition of ruling business leaders with the express purpose of ensuring the “survival of what we call the free enterprise system”.
We proceeded to learn about the leveraging of debt, stock buybacks, and exploitation of systemic racism and sexism utilized to strip-mine the increasingly financialized economy of its surplus value and ensure that all profits remain in the hands of the wealthy capitalist class. As a group, we related stories of our own personal alienation from and struggles with this system and discussed strategies by which we can reclaim democratic control of our society.
If you enjoy friendly wagers on the vastness of the wage gap, combating capitalism, and/or socializing with socialists, this class is for you.
There were 19 DSA members plus our instructor who is also a DSA member, and we learned that the function of industrial production is not to make products for a profit but to feed money into finance capital.
Across the country, educators are finding ways to spread the word about the damage runaway inequality is doing to our country. Check out the stories below from New York and Texas and some upcoming events in California and North Carolina.
- Staten Island, NY
- Austin, TX
- Oakland, CA: Train-the-trainer, Sept. 10
- Wilmington, NC: “What Happened to the American Dream?” Sept. 19-20
- Learn more about being a runaway inequality trainer.
Staten Island, NY
June 23, 2017
“We use the runaway inequality workshop as a recruitment tool in the community. So far we have educated 75 people, organized a panel discussion as a follow up, and used the runaway inequality “roadshow” and at the local festival to find new participants for the next class.
“At the La Isla Bonita community festival, we set up a timeline where festival goers could post different social movements in U.S. history. We also posted several of the graphs from the workbook and asked people to reflect on them. People loved the activity and it opened conversations around the graphs. Our table was a hotspot of activity at the festival!”
Communications Workers of America Local 1102
Sustainable Staten Island
At the La Isla Bonita community festival on Staten Island, festivalgoers added social movements in U.S. history to a timeline and reflected on charts showing the depth and causes of runaway inequality.
July 8, 2017
Activists representing Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Texas State Employees Union, Our Revolution, 350 Austin, and the Travis County Green Party came to a day-long Reversing Runaway Inequality workshop. They dug deep into the causes of runaway inequality and the effects that financial strip-mining has on our lives.
One of the workshop activities is to reflect on value statements that we often hear (like “family values” and “free trade”) and offer statements to describe the world we want to live in. Here are some that they came up with:
- Care for every family
- An economy for all
- FWNW – Fund Workers, Not War
- Vote unto others as you would have them vote unto you
- Ain’t no such thing as a “free” market
About half of the participants plan to partner up and lead their own workshops.
Communications Workers of America
in Austin dug
deep into the
Upcoming in Oakland, CA
Sept. 10, 2017
The RunawayInequality.org educational network runs full-day workshops called Reversing Runaway Inequality. You’re invited to attend a version of the workshop that will also include discussion of the Small Group Activity Method the workshop uses.
Sliding scale registration fee: $20-$60 to cover materials and lunch.
The curriculum is designed for a full-day workshop for 20-25 people, though the material can be adapted for different size groups and shorter amounts of time.
Upcoming in Wilmington, NC
Sept. 19 & 20, 2017
“What Happened to the American Dream?”
Les Leopold will discuss Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice and what we might do to address runaway inequality.
Tuesday, Sept. 19 @ 7pm
ILA Union Hall
1305 South 5th Ave.
Wednesday, Sept. 20 @ 5:30pm
DeLoach Hall, Room 114
5148 Randall Dr.
The focus will be on using the Small Group Activity Method of training trainers. For information how you can participate click here.
Or to purchase a sliding-scale ticket click here.