Labor history is significantly longer than Michael Barone understands. What has happened today is more closely related to the time of the Robber Barons popularized by the Carnegies, Rockefellers and their ilk. Decidedly anti-union, anti-worker and all capitalism all the time. Panics and economic shut downs of the late 1800's primarily caused by issues related to those same robber barons did not help the crisis that lead up to the Great Depression. And it was the Pro-Capitalist wing of the Republican Party, the hands off approach of Taft, Harding, Coolidges and Hoover that took that slow walk into financial crisis from the Post WWI period and gave us the Depression.
Barone is so hateful of Obama and the possibility of changes in our economy that he tries to link them to things in our history as if to do so would make his point. It does not, it is really only laughable at best, take this paragraph for instance:
Barack Obama and other Democrats have used the financial crisis to spin a narrative. The problem, they say, is deregulation and greed. This is not strictly speaking accurate. Obama and the Democrats opposed tighter regulation of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and John McCain supported it. Unregulated firms like hedge funds have done well, while heavily regulated banks have had troubles.
OFHEO (Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight) is charged with GSE oversight (Fannie and freddie and Ginnie) and for the past 7 years have been pretty well sidelined by the administration from doing any kind of oversight of the GSEs.
During meetings on credit scoring, OFHEO told a group of government housing and loan policy makers that they were not able to instruct Fannie or Freddie on issues of credit underwriting or lending. At the time, several members of Congress from the Republican Party put forward talking points about eliminating OFHEO. The regulatory authority this columnist and others refer to would have been something different than OFHEO and would not have had the power OFHEO has but has also been constrained from using due to this administration.
Now, for the anti-union crap from this craptacular piece:
Their card-check bill will promote unionization and do to much of the private sector what union contracts have done to the Detroit Three automakers. Higher taxes and overregulation could reduce economic vitality and creativity. Comparable worth laws could have bureaucrats setting private sector salaries. America could move some distance to becoming another France.
First off, poor management, bad reads of the market, and GM's bailout of their lending arm (GMAC industrial bank and mortgage company) has done more to grind the "big three" into the ground than any labor agreements or disagreements.
The labor of workers is not a commodity no matter how much an economist tries to claim it is. Workers cannot and do not negotiate individual agreements with employers. Employers offer employees agreements. You can take it or not. As a worker, the only way to be treated as a market force is to band with other workers and collectively bargain with your employer. From many, one. One voice negotiates with the employer for what workers want.
okya, next piece of crap:
But some had adverse economic effects and proved unpopular: high taxes on high earners, industrial unionization.
Unionization began in the early 1800's. Trades were formed and then reformed and unions evolved over time. They didn't just appear one day during the depression. Employers caused severe problems for workers that lead to unionization from Haymarket to Triangle Shirt Factory Fire to Matewan to "baby stikers" and it took a long time until we had laws in place to restrict the manner in which employers treat employees. Again, another historical point that Barone leaves out. Unions have not caused "adverse economic effects," they have evolved as the regulations of them have as well. Personally, I'd like to see a Republican like Teddy Roosevelt back in the White House, one that supported unions and wanted to end monopolies. Unfortunately, those Republicans do not exist.
And he completed this pathetic anti-union rant with this equally pathetic statement:
But voters tend to consider only the history they know. They might do well to look back a little further.
I suppose I shouldn't be shocked that he's so eager to dismiss history that not only does Mr. Barone not understand, but clearly that he also hasn't read.
It's so simple to blame unions and Democrats for issues related to the current crisis, but it isn't Democrats who've been at the helm for the past 8 years. Republicans have controlled legislation since 1994 (except intermittent Dem control of the Senate) and have had complete control of this country from 2001 until 2006. In that time, September 11th occurred, we invaded 2 countries, Fannie and Freddie cooked their books to down play their excessive profits (2005) and then collapsed just 3 years later, etc... Seriously, did this guy even live in theis country over the past 20 years? It sure doesn't seem like he did.
The only common denominator between the Financial Crisis of today and the Great Depression is that both were brought to us by the Republican Party.