One hundred years after the smoke cleared, the 1911 tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is still good fodder for political haymaking. While the antagonism over collective bargaining escalates in Wisconsin, the president’s unspoken decision to keep out of the conflict after his “assault on unions” remark has forced White House staff to come up with creative ways to let labor know that Mr.
John Boehner owes heartfelt thanks to organized labor. It would be difficult to top the gift of boundless opportunity presented by the protests and school shutdowns in Wisconsin. Outraged at a proposal to save jobs and the state’s economy by requiring public employees to pay more than a pittance toward their benefits, unions demonstrated just how important it is to break their stranglehold on state budgets right here and now.
Now, let me tell you, another thing we’ve done is to make long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated, our inefficient national infrastructure. We’re talking roads. We’re talking bridges. We’re talking dams, levees. But we’re also talking a smart electric grid that can bring clean energy to new areas.
The standoff with Arizona and the never-ending BP disaster have spurred enmity between taxpayers, government, and businesses. Opportunism spurred by the discord will compel legislators to pass bills to give the appearance of action, and to appease special interests eager to seize the moment.
The president’s political roots harken back to Chicago, so he knows the lesson of the 1979 snowstorm that was the beginning of the end for Mayor Michael Bilandic. He also knows that culpability is rarely the issue in politics. As any street-level Chicago hood will tell you, the most important thing is to make sure that you always have someone to rat on if you are unlucky enough to get caught.
The launch of Sputnik I on October 4, 1957, caught America by surprise. In the face of President Eisenhower’s support of the Vanguard proposal, the Soviet Union’s unexpected milestone shocked us into accelerating our aerospace program, led to the creation of NASA, and ultimately delivered three astronauts to the moon on July 20, 1969.
Part I: The Employment Picture
We have accepted for decades that the decline of U.S. manufacturing is inevitable, with lengthy analyses since the 1970s dedicated to finding a root cause for the inexorable deterioration of this vital sector of our economy.