Campus Speech: Union Busting, Greedy Capitalists Stole American Dream

Apr 16, 2013 by

Aslinn Scott –

Free-market ideals, union-busting efforts and greedy capitalists stole the American dream, but a prioritization on fairness and an equalization of incomes can save this country, argued Hedrick Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and best-selling author, in a recent speech at CU Boulder.

The divide between the have and the have-nots must diminish, said Smith during his keynote address at the university as it hosted the 65th annual Conference on World Affairs last week.

“We must make a democracy, or have wealth concentrated in the few – we can’t have both,” Smith said during his speech at the conference, which drew participants from across the globe for intellectual discussions, forums and debates.

Hundreds of students and scholars from across the nation attended Smith’s keynote address, which he fashioned after his recently published book, “Who Stole the American Dream?”

The book offers an analysis of U.S. political and economic trends over the last half-century, and it argues in part that capitalism was formally based on the ideals of fairness and sharing the wealth.

Smith said capitalistic business owners in the 1940s through the 1970s held such notions of equality, and during those years median incomes increased by leaps and bounds.

“Business owners … were fair and smart to share the wealth,” Smith said. “This business ethos is lost.”

Smith argued that the business ethos they had and that America should adopt, again, is stakeholder capitalism.

“Balance interests of everyone involved,” Smith said.

Since American business owners no longer honor this practice, the country continues to further be divided by class, he said.

“We have a divided society,” Smith said. “We are divided by ideology, money, and power.”

With that, Smith said, the middle class is losing its political power because of this continuing division, and creating the wealth inequalities seen today.

“In America, we accept inequality of income as a good thing,” Smith said, “but it’s out of whack.”

Smith cited opponents of trade unions and champions of free enterprise among D.C. lobbyists and lawmakers in the late 1970s who helped dismantle some of the trade unions as the beginnings of much of the problem.

“Unions are the underpinning of the middle class,” Smith said.

Lawmakers further hurt the working class, Smith argued, by changing tax laws to benefit the wealthy, favoring corporate business over trade unions. He said that ultimately hurt the purchasing power of middle class America. Smith then went on to attack the Reagan administration.

“Three trillion dollars was added to the wealthy class under Reagan,” Smith noted. “One trillion dollars was under Bush.”

Smith said America, like Rome and Greece, is on a precipice, and whose future looks “terminal and fatal” because the current economic system is now lopsided.

Smith mentioned his book has a “Ten Point Program to Save America,” and urged the audience to change the political system.

“We have got to become active, again,” Smith declared. “Martin Luther King said during his speech on ‘The March on Washington,’ that is not widely remembered: ‘We all have an equal shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”

Smith noted the March of Washington was spurred because of Rosa Parks’ refusing to go to the back of the bus, and that resilience is the same thing Americans must do to change the political landscape.

“This day, and this is the time, where we aren’t moving to the back of the bus,” Smith said.

via Campus Speech: Union Busting, Greedy Capitalists Stole American Dream.

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