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.”
A photo from a recent session in Cleveland, of people figuring out how to reverse Runaway Inequality.
A note from David Bitter:
May 13, 2017
I wanted to thank-you for inviting me to attend the May 2017 “Reversing Runaway Inequality” workshop in Cleveland, Ohio. After pondering the experience for a while I would also like to share some thoughts from my perspective.
At this unique point in time we face significant challenges associated with not only our desire for various forms of social justice but we also face environmental challenges that, unless satisfactorily resolved, may determine whether human beings face extinction in the not so distant future. Faced with such a dilemma I have asked: what should I do? …what can I do?… what will I do?
I know from my own past experiences that people will go to great lengths to avoid very stressful problems especially when their implicit world view (and how they see themselves) is threatened and even more when there appears to be no way to “fix” whatever caused the stressful problem. And when you add to the mental brew the creative talents of humans to imagine ways in which such a dilemma might magically go away, then charting a viable course of action seems even more distant.
And so I offer thanks to Les, and his CWA partners, in offering his book “Runaway Inequality –An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice” (and the associated workshop/training) as a way to connect the dots of many disparate “causes” through the theme of “Runaway Inequality”.
The Guide and associated training offer an approach that is non-threatening and thus could be used with, for example, the majority of Christians or Muslims, unions members or business owners…even Democrats or Republicans! Additionally, by organizing around the issue of economic justice, any human with a wallet or purse will find a common bond to the call for action and will find a common cause with the proposed solutions. I look forward to being a part of the growing of the populist movement envisioned and know that we can, individually and united, change the world!
With High Regards,
David Bitter – Student of Life
The bulk of the review by Harris Gruman sits behind the paywall. You can buy short-term access ($36!) or get in if you’re a subscriber, but the lead paragraph is worth quoting:
“Les Leopold has a mighty ambition for all of us. Like Populist Era “lecturers,” [he believes] we need to educate the people of our land about the economoic big picture in order to build a coherent national agenda and movement. His book, Runaway Inequality, is offered as a handbook for that work, a manual for educators and self-organized reading groups to get a grasp on the interconnectedness of our situation through the lens of growing inequality. This goal is set out compellingly in his introduction. Such a project of uniting theory and practice requires a daunting combination of talents—presenting complex processes in comprehensible and persuasive ways, balancing anger and hope, being opinionated without being one-sided—and Leopold makes a laudable contribution to that effort with this work.”