Damon Silvers is associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO.
Trade, the war on unions, and underfunded schools all lowered wages. Cheap credit propped us up -- but now the debt is due. Herewith, a national economic strategy to turn America around.Damon SilversApr 18, 2008
We are living through a profound financial crisis. That crisis has many proximate causes in the governance and deregulation of Wall Street. But its real roots lie in the long-term weakening of the real American economy in an era of globalization -- in closed factories, outsourced high-tech jobs, low-wage jobs with no benefits, and in the unsustainable effort to maintain middle-class living standards through borrowing. For 30 years, America's economic elites and their political allies have pursued policies designed to produce this low-wage economy. But at the same time, policy-makers of both parties have sought, with some success, to maintain high levels of consumer spending. The creation of this low-wage, high-spending economy has systematically destroyed the various ways we individually and collectively save and invest. Instead of an income-driven economy, we have become an economy driven by asset bubbles fueled by cheap debt. The ultimate unsustainability of this strategy has...
Damon SilversMar 06, 2002
Enron's collapse--and the terrible losses suffered by Enron workers--has created the political space for a real conversation about how employers have chosen to finance their employees' retirement. That debate is centered on the fact that millions of Americans hold 401(k) plans that are overinvested in the stock of their employer, which puts them at risk of suddenly losing their retirement savings. Some will say this is the result of workers making free choices. But if you look at the kind of campaign Enron management ran to get employees to invest in company stock, you see something that looks more like an exercise in employer power and boiler-room sales tactics than anything resembling reasoned free choice. The challenge facing policy makers is how to neutralize employers' campaigns while preserving workers' abilities to make informed choices about how to invest their money. At the heart of that dilemma is the fact that it's profoundly in an employer's interest for employees to load...