Can Sovereignty be returned to the Citizen?


It was the great experiment: a nation without a king; a nation without a military junta; a nation of self-rule by its citizens. The history of the United States frequently has shown that the Republic can faulter. Each recovery is slightly different, provoking new interpretations of a democratic republic.

War certainly disrupts democracy. To name just a few nation-changing wars: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, both World Wars, and the Viet Nam War. There are economic conflicts that affect democracy: The Panic of 1785 – 88 was an economic expansion that went bust when Great Britain would not participate in trade. The result was a stronger government that could influence economic parameters. The Panic of 1796 – 97 was strikingly similar to the recession of 2008, a collapse of real estate values and over extended banks. Many folks are still alive who remember the Great Depression of 1929 – 33.

At the end of these recessions and many others, legislation was passed that made the federal government less responsive directly to citizens in order for the government to maintain control of the economy. During the Reagan administration in the 1980s, the economic policy shifted to encouraging private enterprise and investment. As of today, the economic imbalance between rich and poor, salary constraint and diminishing labor stability are major issues.

Other changes associated largely with increased population and manipulated representation have distorted permanently the idea of one citizen, one vote such that not everyone has a vote, not every vote is equal and the subsequent reality often doesn’t reflect the voters’ intent.

Social abuses, most often financial disparities and less than patriotic treatment of citizens of every stripe creates strongly defined classes which, when the nation is under duress, quickly splinter national unity.

Finally, great shifts in agriculture, weather, science and technology throw society off balance. These changes are slow to move and often are subtle and ignored until the impact is troublesome. Establishment seems not capable of solving the issues of a changed ‘sovereign’ nation.

The democratic citizen has not held the reigns of sovereignty for a long time.

– – – –

It took half a century, suffragettes, significant labor conflict, two wars and an almost fatal depression to change the nation from what it was in 1900 to what it became in 1950. (‘nation’ means the whole kit and caboodle: how and why the government operates, the culture, economy and international role) In 1900 citizens bought the first automobiles and by 1950 they bought the first televisions. During that span the internal combustion engine launched the fossil fuel era.

From 1950 to 2000 (with the exception of the Kennedy presidency – which was stopped by three assissinations) the nation grew conservative in the face of the cold war, the Korean Conflict and the Viet Nam War. The stresses of a changing world were evident in McCarthyism, young people rioting at the Democratic Convention and, with the effort to pass the Civil Rights Act, conflict became physical between races; cities were looted and burned. Four college students were killed by the National Guard. Labor unions were targeted by conservative state governments. During the 1960’s the pressure of change erupted like a volcano.

By the 1980’s the national philosophy had begun to shift from strength in unity to strength in money – from labor and manufacturing to investment and corporatism. Riding a global wave of economic success during the 1990’s put aside issues of uncertainty among citizens and further exacerbated the stressed culture by starting wars in the Middle East. Old political conflicts from the cold war emerged again.

It would take literally a new generation of citizens who had no historical ties to the twentieth century before issues of a troubled society came to the forefront. The twentieth century Establishment had stayed too long. The government was trying to keep a dead horse on its feet. Quickly, populism emerged and Donald Trump was elected.

– – – –

Time is long overdue for an exercise to reconstruct what can pass as some version of the great experiment. The decades of delay have created many pieces lying about which must be fitted back together, very much like trying to figure out a complex tangram. One piece is lexicon. The verbal conflict is full of words that have changed nuance or even are no longer useful; many new words did not exist in 2000 that reflect a faster moving world society. What do conservatives mean when they espouse capitalism? Or socialism used by liberals? Another piece, since the beginning, is race. The nuance has changed even since the 1990’s.

Other pieces include privacy, security, voting parity, term limits, health, job, salary, taxation, financial and corporate regulation, dysfunctional lobbying and fund raising, foreign policy, freedom, equality, newly defined infrastructure, artificial intelligence, housing, environment, and not last, international economy. All these pieces must become a unified whole if new generations are to sustain the great experiment.

It is easy to define pieces but hard to define the tool that will reassemble the pieces. It is hard to define the tool because the tool is every every every American citizen. Forty-seven percent voting is not every American. The nation is not a set of Lego blocks that snap together. It is a viscous, surging mass that must continually adjust. Imagine a huge flock of birds soaring in the sky; each and every bird is constantly adjusting its own path to assure the flock remains whole otherwise predators will be able to focus on individual, vulnerable birds. Mariner suggests that already other nations are lurking closely, eager to kill the great experiment.

At the personal level, where one talks with family, friends and associates, there is an attitude that can be expressed by letting them know that their right to believe what they believe is an American right not allowed in most of the world and “regardless of differences, always know I have your back if you need me.” Mariner has used that sentence with great success. Unity is the goal.

Ancient Mariner



Mariner doesn’t know how to say this but . . . Donald’s base is wiser than most of the US citizenry. The base understands the future and is trying its best to thwart it – in the nation’s behalf as well.

Every world citizen should view the latest FRONTLINE presentation on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It won’t be idle entertainment and it takes a couple of hours. But the reader’s existence in the future is revealed.

Click . Pay attention, think, stay awake – it isn’t a sit-com.

Ancient Mariner

The link between evolvement, anthropology, romance and politics

“Mariner has alluded in the past to the difference between Chimpanzees and Bonobos (essentially the same as Chimpanzees). Chimpanzees have some aggressive genes because during their evolutionary era food and space were an issue in northern Africa but the Bonobos lived in southern Africa during an era of plentiful food and space. Bonobos chill; Chimpanzees find reasons to be contentious.” (Post – Of Mice, Men and Power Aug 29 2018)

Also, bonobos live in a matriarchal society whereas chimpanzees live in a patriarchal society. In both groups, males are free to mate any female in estrus unless intercepted by a dominate male. Also in both groups, females are known to have an occasional rendezvous on the side – an evolutionary compulsion to sustain a strong genome. Unpleasantly, the males of human ancestors, the chimps, every once in a while will go on a rampage waging war with other breeds of monkeys brutally killing and eating them.

Making a left turn here, could populism be related to a chimpanzee rampage? The ethics are the same: take no prisoners. Presumably the behavior both in chimps and in humans is provoked by a situation that suggests something has to be done. Organized military action doesn’t seem to fit; war is planned and organized and seeks a worthy goal. Populism, however, seems to fit like a glove.

This correlation explains the disregard Donald’s base has for his behavior. When advocates are asked why they tolerate his many shortcomings, they simply say, “He’s doing what we want him to do” – take no prisoners and drain the swamp not of ne’er do wells but of establishmentarians, a different breed of monkey for sure.

Making another turn away from anthropology and considering the sociological phenomenon called populism, one may ask a number of questions:

What is populism?

History tends to remember populism as an angry crowd of dissenters who finally revolt, similar to the chimp rampage. Populism is more than an angry crowd; it is a symptom within a culture that reflects disarray and instability. Members of the culture begin to feel insecure and attempt to protect themselves from uncontrolled or unknown circumstances. Insecurity affects the entire culture. For example, political parties become combative rather than collaborative; religion loses inclusivity and replaces it with exclusivity; neighborhoods become reclusive and class conscious; hoarding of money and possessions is more important; individuals seek like-minded others and tend to form large cliques; ethos is replaced with transactional values.

In the realm of culture and politics, this behavior is known as identity politics. It continues to grow in hostility as the culture becomes less supportive.

What causes populism?

Anxiety. Not necessarily the surface, immediately felt anxiety but rather the deep, often unarticulated awareness that things aren’t well. Speaking to the US populist movement, the fact that salaries have dragged behind inflation for four decades threatens family solvency; many labor class workers can no longer afford what most would call a normal, satisfying life. This threat to family solvency has created a sense of crisis.

A notable benchmark was when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed in 1993 and significant numbers of factory jobs began to move to Mexico and Canada. Since then, automation and international corporatism have added to the job/salary decline. Other factors that will cause populism: “We went to school, worked hard, followed the rules and now we’re unemployed.” Or, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Another motive is that public support, access to medical and other services have become more difficult to deal with, and the social structure in general has shifted (for example the middle class is splitting in two with the lower half drifting into poverty). And another is corruption. Finally, a dysfunctional government, state or federal, leaves a feeling in individuals of being left out and unimportant. In the United States at the moment all these causes are in play.

How can we stop populism?

The causes of the current populist movement have been building for some time. This time it is not a matter of disgruntlement or a single segment of society; a good analogy would be a major hurricane. Repairing each one of the causes listed in the last few paragraphs will take years of restructuring. The solutions are not simply reparation through better salaries, ethical control over corporations and voting in a new government. Things are so bad today that fixes must be included that prevent further damage.

Some repairs are more urgent than others:

The macroeconomic model must be remodeled completely; the US has become a plutocracy – the rich run the government.

The social safety net must be reset to support massive job loss as artificial intelligence becomes implemented.

Taxes, benefits, health, and other institutional services must be supported strongly to assure functionality in the immediate future.

Society in an automated age will be strange to most citizens; extreme swings in wealth and opportunity as well swings in poverty and deprivation will occur. Effort to constrain these swings is necessary using taxes and guaranteed income.

Democratic processes must be restored to fair and meaningful representation for a population that has outgrown the image of an evenly dispersed population perceived in 1787.

In short, populism will be with US citizens for a long time.

Finally, the bogey man: climate change.

US readers should be glad they live in a democratic nation. There are eight western nations with populist uprisings; the authoritarian nations aren’t having it as well as the democratic ones.

Ancient Mariner


It’s a Fifty State Election, er, Six State Election

Don’t listen to the gossip on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, etc., nor listen to the scary fake news on Fox and Sinclair-owned stations. Don’t even listen to the cleanest news broadcast NEWSY. Don’t listen because none of these news stations report the reality of state by state polls.
It isn’t a national election. It’s fifty states voting their parochial politics, that is, red states, purple states and blue states. These polls don’t vary much because they are indigenous to state politics, not national politics.
The truth of the matter is the state polls suggest Donald may win again. Eerily, the statistics of favorability are identical to the 2016 election. The presidency may be determined again by the Electoral College where it took only six states to ignore their state-wide popular vote and flip the balance to Donald: Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The vote in just a few purple states, which state-by-state polls suggest hasn’t changed much, will determine the next president.
In similar fashion, state polls indicate that only a few switches from republican to democrat are likely in the Senate. Even if democrats secure a majority, it is likely they will not secure 60 Senate seats. Hence, all the progressive plans of the democratic House will die in the Senate.
Every vote is important, of course, but gerrymandering and regional divides between large populations and rural populations will disregard the nonsense that news media puts out every day.
2020 will be another close election.
The impeachment process is highly saturated with politics rather than focusing on the destruction of the Constitution. Donald has used the power of the presidency to dismember the democratic and Constitutional structure of the US – not only by way of administrative confusion but in his promotion of Russian and Saudi interests – as well as his own pocket. Over the next twenty-five years global power will be redistributed around the world. Every day that Donald is in office weakens US opportunities to participate in that redistribution.
On a similar international slant, the immigration issue, stirred by Donald into a big mess, has distracted futurists from realizing that the US must be aggressive in becoming a political force in Central and South America. Russia already is active on the African continent and China is focusing on everything except perhaps a few European nations. China has targeted Mexico and South American nations adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
In other words, the US must invest in and “save” its southern neighbors in the Western Hemisphere instead of issuing inhumane and divisive policies based on racism. Frankly, such an investment may be a less expensive way to resolve immigration issues and may be more effective than Donald’s wall.
Ancient Mariner

Turtles are lucky

Mariner tosses a few statistics:

-What cost $1 in 1980 costs $3.12 in 2019.
-The average salary in 1980 was $12,513; in 2019 the average is $41,951.

Given these two statistics, everything seems copacetic. $1 in wages in 1980 equals $3.35 in 2019. Yet today there seems to be economic unrest among the citizens. What these statistics belie is the fact that, adjusted for inflation, salaries are flat while the cost of living has increased dramatically.

One element is housing. The average inflation rate per year from 1980 to 2019 was 2.94%. Housing inflation per year rose by 3.09%. A house that cost $100,000 in 1980 costs $327,118 in 2019. Salaries however did not rise in accordance with housing inflation. Rents increased as rapidly; double and even triple occupancy is a common experience. The chart below covers the years from 1997 to 2013. It is a good pictorial to show the relationship – which continues to this day.

The number of students in kindergarten through the 12th grade who are homeless has increased by 70 percent over the last decade according to new federal data that also suggests it shows no signs of slowing.

Homeless in College: Students sleep in cars and on couches when they have nowhere else to go.

A survey of nearly 86,000 students taken last fall by The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice found that homelessness affected 18% of respondents attending two-year colleges, and 14% of those attending four-year institutions. The number who said they had experienced housing insecurity, such as difficulty paying rent, was much higher, at 60%, among those attending two-year schools, and at 48% for those enrolled in four-year institutions.

Unsheltered homelessness—spending the night in places not meant for sleeping, such as vehicles, parks, streets, or abandoned buildings—rose for the third consecutive year. From 2017 to 2018, there was a 2 percent increase in people living in unsheltered locations. There was a moderate increase in unsheltered homelessness among families with children and a large increase in unsheltered homelessness among adults ages 25 and older. Not counted in these statistics is the large number of young adults forced to live in their parents’ home.

The issue is that, given inflation, salaries have not kept up with housing inflation and new construction is static; young adults, whether in college or not, cannot meet the demands of inflated housing costs. Further, affording a home is disappearing for increasing numbers of the middle class. And if that imbalance is not enough, more than 13 million Americans could become climate refugees as sea-level rise comes to pass.

Housing is in a state of crisis. Not just the traditional lack of housing for the poor but a national shortage of affordable places to live because income has not kept up. This is truly critical for cities where there are jobs: the salaries are insufficient to find a place to live near jobs not by a few dollars but by thousands.

Mariner suggests this may be the major political issue for the next decade. It is complex, economically imbalanced and has devastating effects on citizens who otherwise would be living normal, home-centered lives. Given its higher inflation rate, housing has become an important investment. Multiple family housing is fought tooth and nail by the NIMBYs (Not in my backyard). Zoning and lock-down property standards issued by HOAs (Home Owner Associations) make it difficult to solve suburban issues.

As to the turtles, they inherit a permanent home for life.

Ancient Mariner

Planet One

Neil deGrasse Tyson classified a unified world where everyone was content with society and all its iterations as “Planet One”. There would be no desire for war or one-upmanship of any kind; as Elvis said, there will be peace in the valley. Utopian visions are comforting, even occasionally sustaining a purpose for one’s life.

One should not scoff at utopias and discard them as fantasy although a reality check quickly discounts that a utopian state will ever occur. Utopian visions are useful for identifying current issues that prevent a utopian experience. At a general level, how would religion perform in order to promote a utopian concept? Politics? Neighborhoods? Businesses?

At the individual level, could ambition exist? Pride? Judgment? What about any comparative rationale? Dare one have any kind of prejudice? In a favorable environment, moss exists in a utopian state although the need to reproduce in some fashion still exists, implying that things aren’t as utopian for moss as one would think.

A new vision of utopia has emerged because of the advancement in electronic technology. Is it possible to achieve a utopian state with a comprehensive support system provided by electronics? This may not be achievable for humans because they would have to turn over moral issues and definitions of utopia to the computers. Mariner has seen The Matrix and is not confident that this kind of utopia would exist for humans – although it may exist for the electronics.

So why does the idea of utopia hang around? It hangs around for the same reason as aspirin; thinking about a moment when one’s problems disappear, life is beautiful and the birds are singing, and that maybe, just maybe, things will feel better – just like taking aspirin.

Instead of envisioning utopia, reverse engineer utopia back to the present and ask, “By any definition, what is preventing utopia?” An example follows that is a large issue and certainly stands in the way of utopia.

The idea that racism is an endemic conflagration full of politics and skin color has begun to step into a broader plain that makes the point that racism is a weakness in the power structure of nations. A nation cannot exercise its full potential because racial prejudice eliminates the potential that may be had if all races were included. Taking this perspective, Donald and the white supremacists clearly would diminish the potential of the nation by eliminating the nonwhite population.

Simply by shifting one’s mindset from exclusionary awareness to a mindset of personal concern that one’s personal wellbeing is constrained suggests an entirely different set of resolutions promoting national potential, therefore assuring an individual will have improved finances and security.

The race issue is becoming more than a learned prejudice. The “Z” generation (born after 2007) is a white minority. For the first time since the Census Bureau has released annual statistics, they show an absolute decline in the nation’s white non-Hispanic population. Note the word ‘decline’; the drop has nothing to do with immigration. White citizens are producing children at the rate of 1.78 per woman. Not enough to sustain population.[1]

As long as the word ‘race’ is required to discuss black population, racism will not disappear according to Ibram X Kendi in his new book, “How to be an Antiracist.” A good example of not identifying race is the new awareness by corporate America; they already feel the fact that nonwhites don’t produce enough GDP and in many subtle ways are trying to integrate nonwhites into the economy. Mariner has noticed that television commercials with increasing frequency use mixed couples and mixed marriages.

Mariner is envious of the wonderful skin tone of Halle Berry. It’s too late for him; maybe his great, great grandchildren will be lucky.

Ancient Mariner

[1] For additional, dependable statistics and dialogue, see William H. Frey’s latest book, “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America,”

How to Herd Cats

In lieu of civics not being taught in public school systems, and in light of the immeasurable importance of a presidential election at this point of social and political change, mariner will remind readers of the ease and indeed the right for them to communicate their opinions to their elected representatives – state as well as federal.

Expressing one’s opinion to a representative is as simple as using a telephone, email and text or more deliberately, a face-to-face at a town hall event or visiting the representative’s office. And always there is a handwritten or typed letter, seemingly old fashioned but surprisingly influential. Do not be intimidated; these folks are sensitive to a voter’s influence on their job security – a voter is a member of the Board of Directors.

Aside from the vote a citizen has, communication directly with their representative is a very important activity. It is how a citizen manages their democratic government.

A voter can communicate indirectly with their representatives by attending legislative hearings, attending political party meetings, and in Iowa, at least, attend the caucuses. See to it that one’s name is on the mailing list of all direct representatives and the mailing list of one’s preferred local party committee. Always vote at every chance for everything from dog catcher to school board to primaries and elections. Even vote for the judges.

Be aware of and participate in current petitions, referendums and activities by related unions, education, housing, seminars and social presentations of cultural or political issues.

All this sounds like a second job. It is. Certainly one’s own career and life experience comes first but herding political cats is as important as going to the grocery store. Make time!!

A warning: social media and television news are as convoluted as walking through an endless swamp of alligators. It is very, very important for a voter to have a personal compass that reads motive. These sources, every one, have ulterior motives. The activity isn’t herding cats, its hunting cougars.

As to donating money, contain it to causes as much as possible. Donating to one’s specific jurisdictional campaigns is okay but put one’s money where it will do the most to promote the voter’s opinions – typically large organizations promoting the voter’s perspective.

Every citizen must realize that they are as much a part of a democratic government as any elected official. There are four branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial – all who work for the fourth: the citizen.

Ancient Mariner


The Resistance

Mariner receives correspondence from a number of readers. It is obvious that mariner is not an instrument of change, entertainment perhaps, even a puzzle; but not an instrument of change. Readers, indeed all people without exception, except perhaps easily led nonthinkers, have their opinion, whatever its logical or illogical constructs, and will stick to it. Having principles is a good thing.

What drives mariner to frustration is the incongruity of it all. A few examples:

The US is the strongest and purest version of democracy among all nations. Oddly, it ranks last among the 28 democratic nations with only 47% voting. More than half of the electorate (mariner should stop aggrandizing citizens with that term) does not vote.

Oh, but they carry guns in fear of the government invading their homes and stripping them of security and worth. If one thinks about it correctly, the citizens own the government; the government doesn’t own them. Paranoid bullets won’t even be noticed when confronted by the largest, best trained, highly equipped army in the world. But think what an additional 53% of votes would do to an election. If one doesn’t vote, one can’t bitch. The subset of the paranoid citizens that do vote, vote for an Antichrist just to cause trouble for the establishment.

Mariner understands that the heavily capitalist plutocracy that exists today has screwed the labor class and most of the middle class. But causing lasting pain between US allies and disrupting trade and commerce with an incompetent, uneducated president does not help. Building an irrational and largely useless wall may appeal to a dissident’s paranoia but it comes at an even higher price on civility, equality, and freedom – to say nothing about misspent taxes. This is no time for a king, though it must be entertaining for dissidents to watch the conflagration.

Just as horses and much earlier spears became useless because of advances in technology, bullets are on their way out. Even today new technical processes armed with a dissident’s private information can strip them of everything – who needs the government? Most citizens haven’t had time to contemplate about the new world offered by automation and access to universal information. It is time to evaluate what will change. The change will be the greatest shift in human history.

How can Joe Citizen protect himself from the tech/data giants? (This is a magnitude more likely than the government barging in.) Keep the gun as a souvenir but cherish one’s voting registration – and vote, goddammit!

Ancient Mariner.


News of the Moment

֎ Did the reader see Apple’s new ad selling an Apple credit card that “doesn’t need a bank”? Cryptocurrency is here to stay.

֎ Did the reader read that Jakarta, a city larger than New York by 2 million residents and is the capital of Indonesia, is sinking into the Java Sea? So they are building a brand new city from scratch on the island of Borneo. The downside is that it will house only 1.5 million residents – mostly government workers. Other nations should watch and learn how to do this so that when their home town sinks below the waves, they’ll know what to do.

֎ Mariner surmises that PBS news must read his blog. On Wednesday night’s broadcast they covered a children’s program in Oakland, California where a group of children are taken to a nature park on a regular basis. The program leaders believe that being outside (and not on a sidewalk leashed to a parent’s hand, is good for the general health of the children. One of the leaders had a good tag line: “You can’t click anything in nature.” (see mariner’s “The Child Park” published August 19)

֎ From Dave Chappell’s new Netflix show: “I want to see if you can guess who it is I’m doing an impression of.” He adopts a Homer Simpson–like tone and flails his arms: “Uh, duh. Hey! Durr! If you do anything wrong in your life—duh!—and I find out about it, I’m gonna try to take everything away from you!” Chappelle whines. “And I don’t care what I find out! Could be today, tomorrow, 15, 20 years from now. If I find out, you’re fucking—duh!—finished.” The audience doesn’t have much time to guess which dullard Chappelle is imitating, as he reveals the answer almost immediately: “That’s you!”

֎ Hazrat Inayat Khan appeared on the Zen daily calendar today saying “There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul. A total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.” He died in 1927. How did he know what it would be like in 2019?

֎ The Tongass National Forest in Alaska spans nearly 17 million acres, and its wilderness of old-growth cedar, spruce and hemlock trees makes up the world’s largest temperate rainforest. President Trump is pushing his agriculture secretary to lift logging restrictions in this cool-temperature preserve.

Ancient Mariner




About Labor Unions

Labor unions have been on the decline for several decades. Conservative politicians, businesses and lawsuits limiting union financing are the primary causes. Even more specific, the Internet and advancing technology have changed both the workplace and the treatment of payroll making it a finite overhead that does not flex with profit.

The union model, in place since the start of unions at the beginning of the twentieth century, is corporate-specific; the union is a unit of a specific business and is subject to the condition of that business. Some unions were able to merge with other unions in the same market, e.g., steel, carpentry, autoworkers, truckers, steamfitters, etc. Service unions, e.g., hotel workers and shipping also merged to be a generic force across several businesses. Government unions have survived in democratic states but have been throttled in republican states. A precedent was set at the Federal level when Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union. The following paragraphs succinctly describe the union situation:

[U.S. Labor Unions By Jordan Yadoo]

The Situation

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court found that states cannot require public employees who opt out of union membership to nonetheless help pay for collective bargaining undertaken on their behalf. The court had deadlocked over a similar case in 2016. The decision is expected to reduce the funds unions use to support their members and expand recruitment efforts. And it is likely to cut into their political power, since they’ll have less to spend supporting (mostly Democratic) candidates. The court’s decision was another blow to a system that’s been in decline for years. In 2017, just 10.7 percent of wage and salary workers in the U.S. belonged to a union; almost half the rate in 1983. So-called right-to-work laws, which ban any requirement for employees to pay union dues or fees, are already in place in more than half the states, including the traditional union strongholds of Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. In the public sector, where the membership rate has hovered at about 35 percent, unions were already feeling pressure to agree to pay, pension and health-care cuts. There have been a few bright spots: a string of recent successful unionization campaigns by journalists at the Los Angeles Times, Vox Media and MTV News, and a series of teacher strikes in states including West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado that led to salary increases.

In 1935 the National Labor Relations Act codified workers’ rights to unionize and engage in collective bargaining. By the end of the Great Depression, unions grew in strength and number. When the AFL and CIO merged in 1955, more than 1 in 3 American workers had union jobs. But as the U.S. economy shifted from manufacturing to services, unions gradually lost ground. Workplace walkouts declined. From 1970 to 1980, there were an average of 280 work stoppages per year in the U.S. involving 1,000 workers or more; in 2017, there were 7.

Union workers earn about $200 more per week on average than non-union workers, and have better retirement pay and health insurance. Some economists link today’s wage stagnation, broadening income inequality and lack of economic mobility to the decline in unions.

As manufacturing dwindled, the economy depended more on the service industry (restaurants, hotels, transportation, white collar labor, government, etc.) as a significant working class contributor to GDP. The service business model was too eclectic to unionize easily. Most recently teachers and fast food workers have increased their political voices but legislation, business profit models and self-destructing ennui by workers make a recovery of unionization difficult.

Mariner often quotes Deming in his statement that a new paradigm cannot evolve from within the old paradigm. Boy, is that true today! The ‘Establishment’ has reached the end of the road as the entire world jumps into a different reality. This includes the union ‘Establishment.’

Guru suggests that the marriage between business and unions is over. The influence of the Internet and the ability to move whole companies from country to country without disruption eliminates the hold that a union may have on a stationary business operation – the business can just move elsewhere. What unions may evolve into is a guardian of worker wellbeing in general with no specific business relationship.

A good example that exists today is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The rights of free speech, among other Constitutional rights, is defended constantly not for just paying customers but for all citizens. Consider an American Worker Rights Union that is a constant presence between business practices and worker rights and wages. Another example is the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Mariner remembers his father (Labor Chaplin of Maryland) visiting different unions. They weren’t too far removed from social clubs except that the issues were quite important. Today, this is inefficient. The enemy is a freewheeling corporatism and a plutocratic government. The union defense is in changing legislation and protecting everyone who suffers from illegitimate wages and benefits.

Ancient Mariner