Maureen Dowd: “Donald Trump will be a sad aberration in American history, a mere blip. But, thanks to the cheeky citizens of London, he will always be a blimp.”

Dear Commons Community,

Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, today again set her sights on Donald Trump.   She referred to him as a “Manchurian candidate”.  To quote:

“Trump hugging Putin even as Putin stabs at our democracy is an incomprehensible mystery.

Flummoxed and craven Republicans scramble to go along with a president who has turned the traditional heroes and villains of the G.O.P. topsy-turvy, berating our European allies, NATO, the N.F.L., the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and canoodling with the mendacious and scheming Russians.

On the eve of the Helsinki summit, which Trump has arranged as a very intime pas de deux, it is still befuddling and alarming to watch him kowtow to Putin.

Maybe he is the Manchurian candidate, in need of a hypnotic tuneup. “Will Trump be meeting with his counterpart — or his handler?” Jonathan Chait asks in his New York cover story.

Perhaps it’s an Oedipal thing, that Putin reminds Trump of his authoritarian father. Possibly it’s blackmail or his fear of people suspecting that Russia saved his businesses.”

Dowd’s best lines were her last:

“It’s hard to believe that the British have found someone to despise more than they despise George W. Bush and his poodle, Tony Blair. But they have. With their flair for satirical wit, they perfectly lampooned the loathed American president with “Trump Baby,” a 19-foot floating balloon in the shape of a wailing orange baby in a diaper holding a cellphone with Twitter on the screen.

There were dueling Trump babies — the real one and the blimp — when the president sucker punched his hostess. Trump gave Rupert Murdoch’s Sun an interview criticizing Prime Minister May on Brexit, threatening her on trade, praising her rival, Boris Johnson, and throwing in some white nationalist dog whistles as clotted cream on the crumpet.

Ever the Ugliest American, Trump tried his own version of crazy damage control at the Chequers news conference, declaring his taped Sun interview fake news and buttering the battered May with belated praise.

It is up for debate whether Donald Trump will be a sad aberration in American history, a mere blip. But, thanks to the cheeky citizens of London, he will always be a blimp.”



Special Counsel Robert Mueller Issues Indictment of 12 Russian Intelligence Officers!

Dear Commons Community,

As if a Baby Trump balloon and tens of thousands of Brits protesting the President’s visit to the United Kingdom was not enough yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign. The indictment comes only three days before President Trump was planning to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland.  As reported by the New York Times:

“The 29-page indictment is the most detailed accusation by the American government to date of the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election, and it includes a litany of brazen Russian subterfuge operations meant to foment chaos in the months before Election Day.

From phishing attacks to gain access to Democratic operatives, to money laundering, to attempts to break into state elections boards, the indictment details a vigorous and complex effort by Russia’s top military intelligence service to sabotage the campaign of Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

The timing of the indictment, by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, added a jolt of tension to the already freighted atmosphere surrounding Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin. It is all but certain to feed into the conspiratorial views held by the president and some of his allies that Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors are determined to undermine Mr. Trump’s designs for a rapprochement with Russia.

The president has long expressed doubt that Russia was behind the 2016 attacks, and the 11-count indictment illustrates even more the distance between his skepticism and the nearly unanimous views of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies he leads.

“Free and fair elections are hard fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us,” Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said Friday during a news conference announcing the indictment.

 “So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed,” he said.

It was a striking statement a day after Republican members of Congress, engaging in a shouting match during a hearing, attacked Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. agent who oversaw the early days of the Russia investigation, and questioned the integrity of the Justice Department for what they charged was bias against the president.

The announcement created a bizarre split screen on cable networks of the news conference at the Justice Department and the solemn pageant at Windsor Castle in England, where Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, were reviewing royal guards with Queen Elizabeth II.Russia has denied that its government had any role in hacking the presidential election, and on Friday, Mr. Trump said he would confront Mr. Putin directly. But the president said he did not expect his Russian counterpart to acknowledge it.

“I don’t think you’ll have any, ‘Gee, I did it, you got me,’” Mr. Trump said during a news conference hours before the indictment was announced. He added that there would not be any “Perry Mason” — a reference to the 1950s and 1960s courtroom TV drama in which Perry Mason, a criminal defense lawyer played by Raymond Burr, often got people to confess. “I will absolutely firmly ask the question.”

But Mr. Trump also said he believed that the focus on Russia’s election meddling and whether his campaign was involved were merely partisan issues that made it more difficult for him to establish closer ties with Mr. Putin.

The Kremlin agreed. A statement on Friday from Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the indictment was meant to “spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.”

After the indictment was announced, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and others in his party called on Mr. Trump to cancel his one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin.

The indictment, Mr. Schumer said in a statement, was “further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win.” He added that “glad-handing with Vladimir Putin” would “be an insult to our democracy.”

The screws are tightening as Mr. Mueller identifies more witches in his investigation.



Strzok House Judiciary Committee Hearing – A Colossal Waste of Time!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing was an embarrassment and spiraled into a confused circus.  One chaotic moment came when FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok said he couldn’t answer a question related to the Russia investigation because the FBI’s lawyers had instructed him not to, leading the committee’s chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to threaten to hold Strzok in contempt.  As reported:

“Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked Strzok — whose anti-Trump text messages led to his removal from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller — how many interviews he conducted in the first week of the probe.

“Congressman, as you know, counsel for the FBI, based on the special counsel’s equities, has instructed me not to answer questions about the ongoing investigation into Russian attempts to interfere,” Strzok replied.

Gowdy repeated his question and Strzok repeated his answer, infuriating Goodlatte.

“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said. “Are you objecting to the question?”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., interjected.

“Mr. Chairman, I object,” Nadler said. “This demand puts Mr. Strzok in an impossible position. He is still an employee of the FBI, and FBI’s counsel has instructed him not to answer the gentleman’s question. If we have a problem with this policy we should take it up with the FBI, not badger Mr. Strzok.”

“The point of order is not taken,” Goodlatte said.

“It’s right on point,” Nadler replied.

“Are you just going to make up rules as we go along?” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., asked Goodlatte.

Strzok pointed out that he was not under subpoena and appearing before the committee voluntarily, which appeared to infuriate Goodlatte even more.

“You have not stated a valid, legal basis for not responding to a question directed to you by a member of the United States House of Representatives,” the chairman said, threatening to hold Strzok in contempt.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., countered the suggestion by noting that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had also refused to answer questions from the committee.

“Will the committee also consider contempt for Mr. Bannon?” Swalwell asked.

Goodlatte said Swalwell was out of order.”

The entire hearing was a joke and representative of the dysfunction in the House of Representatives.



Federal Government Reopens Emmett Till Murder Case!

Dear Commons Community,

The federal government has reopened its investigation into the murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African-American boy whose abduction and killing remains, almost 63 years later, among the most gruesome examples of racial violence in the United States.  As reported by the New York Times:

“The Justice Department said that its renewed inquiry, which it described in a report submitted to Congress in late March, was “based upon the discovery of new information.” It is not clear, though, whether the government will be able to bring charges against anyone: Most episodes investigated in recent years as part of a federal effort to re-examine racially motivated murders have not led to prosecutions, or even referrals to state authorities.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Thursday, but it appeared that the government had chosen to devote new attention to the case after a central witness, Carolyn Bryant Donham, recanted parts of her account of what transpired in August 1955. Two men who confessed to killing Emmett, only after they had been acquitted by an all-white jury in Mississippi, are dead.

Yet the Till case, which staggered the nation after the boy’s open-coffin funeral and the publication of photographs of his mutilated body, has never faded away, especially in a region still grappling with the horrors of its past. Even in recent years, historical markers about the case have been vandalized.

“I don’t think this is something the South is going to forget easily,” said Joyce Chiles, a former district attorney in Mississippi who was involved in a mid-2000s review of the Till case that concluded with no new charges.

For more than six decades, Emmett’s death has stood as a symbol of Southern racism. The boy was visiting family in Money, Miss., deep in the Mississippi Delta, from Chicago when he went to a store owned by Ms. Donham and her then husband, who was one of the men who ultimately confessed to Emmett’s murder. Emmett was kidnapped and killed days later, his body tethered to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire and then cast into a river.”

Emmett Till’s brutal murder became a rallying cry for the American civil rights movement.


Fox News’ Shep Smith on Trump, NATO, and Putin!

Dear Commons Community,

The news media yesterday was on fire with coverage of Donald Trump’s visit with NATO members.  Surprisingly, Fox News’ Shep Smith had one of the most critical analysis of Trump’s comments. Here is a recap.

In response to President Donald Trump’s breakfast rant at the NATO summit in Brussels, Shepard Smith devoted the first segment of his Wednesday show to reminding Fox News viewers of the importance of the NATO alliance.

“President Trump upended world order in a way no American president has in modern history,” Smith said at the top of his show. “He attacked our closest allies. He berated them and insulted them. He labeled Germany captive to Russia. And he blasted NATO agreements that date to post-World War II.”

Before launching into a quick history of the alliance, Smith warned viewers that Trump’s “unprecedented” behavior could have lasting damage and derail several decades of diplomatic progress.

“President Trump’s utterances not only open the door for a new system overseas,” he said. “They could also turn back the global clock centuries.”

Trump kicked off the NATO summit by accusing member states of being in debt to America because of delinquent payments and failing to contribute their fair share in defense spending. He also lashed out at Germany in particular, accusing the nation of being “held captive” by Russia.

“The Germans are our close friends and treasured allies,” Smith said in response.

The Fox News host boiled down Trump’s attacks to one point: Russian leader Vladimir Putin is likely pleased with Trump’s disruption.

“One thing is certain,” Smith added. “Vladimir Putin would like nothing more than for our NATO alliance to fray. For friends to fight among themselves as we do today in historically unprecedented fashion. For it is NATO that is the best defense against Vladimir Putin and Russian aggression.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, early next week. The highly anticipated sit-down will involve just the two world leaders with translators.

Aides and journalists will not be allowed to listen to the exchange. Ahead of his Europe trip, which involves the NATO summit and a visit to the U.K., Trump told the press that his meeting with the Russian leader may be “the easiest of them all.”

Shep Smith has taken stances in the past in direct opposition to the Fox News mantra to support Donald Trump no matter how outlandish or foolish his pronouncements.


Fayetteville State University to Raze Two Dormitories It Doesn’t Need Because of Online Learning Programs!

Dear Commons Community,

James Anderson, the Chancellor of Fayetteville State University, an historically black college in North Carolina, announced plans to demolish two dormitories — and not replace them.  The reason? It doesn’t need to. Enrollment isn’t falling at Fayetteville State; in fact, it’s held steady at about 6,200 students overall for the past five years. But these days, more of its students are attending fully online, or they’re older. Some are both. This is the changing face of the American college student.  As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“…as James Anderson, Fayetteville’s chancellor, succinctly put it; there’s a new breed of students: “They don’t need dormitories.” 

Gone will be the 240-bed Vance Hall, which has been unused for 10 years (Anderson describes it as looking “like a big prison”), and the 198-bed Bryant Hall, which the university decided to close after last year. The cost of tearing down Vance would be about $850,000 because of lingering asbestos issues; Anderson is hoping the state legislature will provide the money. 

The institution has no immediate plans for the soon-to-be-open spaces. But it does have further ambitions for its online and adult-student offerings. Along with the 10 online degrees it already offers, next year Fayetteville State will add a $10,000 degree in conjunction with six nearby community colleges. (It’s called the $10K Pathway, but Jon Young, Anderson’s chief of staff, says the university is open to a better name if you’ve got one.) And with its proximity to Fort Bragg, the giant Army base, the university is also looking to develop programs in fields like cybersecurity that might appeal to soldiers from the base. Those won’t necessarily be four-year programs…

…When Chancellor Anderson was describing his institution’s embrace of online courses and adult learners, he told me, “I think more institutions are going to have to change to this model.” Perhaps some of these small colleges will choose a similar course. I suspect many won’t want or be able to make that kind of shift. And that leaves me, and maybe you too, wondering: Where does that leave them?”

Good question?



NY Times Editorial Analyzes Brett Kavanaugh – President Trump’s Nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court!

Dear Commons Community,

The news media today will be awash with analysis of President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.  In short, he is a conservative, Republican insider who will create a solid right-wing majority on the court for years to come.  Judge Kavanaugh currently sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, and has been a fixture in conservative politics. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House.  Below is the New York Times editorial board analysis of his nomination.

It ain’t good!



There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh

And you probably won’t until it’s too late.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

July 9, 2018

So what can the American people hope to know in the days ahead about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s latest candidate for the Supreme Court, who will very shortly hold one of the most powerful unelected jobs in government and wield profound influence over their daily lives? An awful lot, and yet, at the same time, so alarmingly little.

First, the awful lot: Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century. While the somewhat unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy once served as the fulcrum for the court, that role will now go to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a far more ideological conservative.

Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, has been a fixture in conservative politics and is widely respected by the Republican elite. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House. He successfully portrayed himself in his remarks at the White House as a nice guy who coaches girls in basketball, feeds the homeless and believes in the Constitution.

What Americans can’t know about Judge Kavanaugh: pretty much anything else. That’s thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process, which once provided the Senate and the public with useful information about a potential justice’s views on the Constitution, but which has, ever since the bitter battle over President Ronald Reagan’s failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, devolved into a second-rate Samuel Beckett play starring an earnest legal scholar who sits for days at a microphone and labors to sound thoughtful while saying almost nothing.


Neil Gorsuch perfected the role last year, with his aw-shucks demeanor and his disingenuous regrets that, gosh, it just wouldn’t be right to express his views about almost any legal case or issue that had come before the court in the past, or might one day in the future.

Senate Democrats didn’t cover themselves in glory trying to pin down Justice Gorsuch, spending an inordinate amount of time hammering him on old opinions that demonstrated his supposed disdain for the “little guy.” Justice Gorsuch easily parried the charge by pointing out, rightly, that his allegiance was to the Constitution and not to individual litigants, however sympathetic they might be.

It’s true that Supreme Court nominees used to sail through the Senate on voice votes. That was another era, when the major parties weren’t as polarized as they are now, and the justices’ votes often broke down in unpredictable ways. Today, there is essentially no overlap between the conservative justices, all appointed by Republican presidents, and the liberals, all appointed by Democratic presidents — and that was before Justice Kennedy stepped down. The increasing polarization undermines the crucial role the court needs to play in our democracy, acting as a neutral arbiter that checks the elected branches.

There are structural fixes, like term limits, that could counteract this trend. When the Constitution’s framers decided to give Supreme Court justices lifetime appointments, the life expectancy for a free white male was roughly 35 years — less than half what it is today, and equal to the entire tenure of Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010 and is still going strong at 98.

One proposal would limit justices to 18-year terms, which would create an opening on the court every two years, and reduce some of the political gamesmanship that surrounds open seats today. But any change to the justices’ tenure would require a constitutional amendment, and so is a longer debate for another day.

In the meantime, what should senators ask Judge Kavanaugh?

First, the questions everyone wants answered: What is his judicial philosophy? How does he approach interpreting the Constitution and statutes? Does he agree with the decision in landmark Supreme Court cases like, say, Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools, or Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a constitutional right to privacy? There’s no reason, despite their protestations, that nominees for the highest court in the land can’t give the public straight answers to these questions and many more like them — several, including Chief Justice Roberts himself, did so in the past.

But Senate Democrats and others who believe in the importance of an independent and nonpartisan judiciary also need to treat these hearings as a public-education opportunity. Where once these sorts of hearings served to inform Americans about the finer points of constitutional law, now they might be used to alert them to cynical tactics of power politics. For starters, that would mean making it clear that Monday’s nomination belongs not to Mr. Trump so much as to the conservative legal activists at the Federalist Society, who have spent nearly four decades building a movement to reshape the federal judiciary and rewrite whole sections of constitutional law.

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump publicized a list of possible Supreme Court nominees preapproved by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, another conservative group. It was scrubbed of any squishes along the lines of David Souter, Anthony Kennedy or even Chief Justice Roberts, all of whom have been deemed insufficiently committed to the cause for failing to vote in lock step with the radical right’s agenda. (Judge Kavanaugh was left off the original list but was added later.)

The Federalist Society claims to value the so-called strict construction of the Constitution, but this supposedly neutral mode of constitutional interpretation lines up suspiciously well with Republican policy preferences — say, gutting laws that protect voting rights, or opening the floodgates to unlimited political spending, or undermining women’s reproductive freedom, or destroying public-sector labor unions’ ability to stand up for the interests of workers.

In short, Senate Democrats need to use the confirmation process to explain to Americans how their Constitution is about to be hijacked by a small group of conservative radicals well funded by ideological and corporate interests, and what that means in terms of the rights they will lose and the laws that will be invalidated over the next several decades.

We’re witnessing right now a global movement against the idea of liberal democracy and, in places like Hungary and Poland, its grounding in an independent judiciary. Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans appear happy to ride this wave to unlimited power. They will almost certainly win this latest battle, but it’s a victory that will come at great cost to the nation, and to the court’s remaining legitimacy.

Americans who care about the court’s future and its role in the American system of government need to turn to the political process to restore the protections the new majority will take away, and to create an environment where radical judges can’t be nominated or confirmed. As those tireless conservative activists would be the first to tell you, winning the future depends on deliberate, long-term organizing in the present, even when — especially when — things appear most bleak.


Virginia Judge Rules George Mason University Foundation Does Not Have to Open Its Agreements with Koch Foundation!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that a group of students suffered a setback last week, when a Virginia judge rejected their attempt to lift the curtain of secrecy shielding gifts to a foundation that raises money for George Mason.

“The case involved a George Mason student group, Transparent GMU, that had sued to gain access to donor agreements between the Koch Foundation and the George Mason University Foundation. The students argued that George Mason’s foundation, an entity that accepts and manages private gifts, works for the public university and should be subject to the same open-records laws.

But the judge, John M. Tran of Fairfax County Circuit Court, found that the foundation is not a public body under current Virginia law. He deferred to state legislators to change that law if they saw fit.

The ruling does little to clarify an already-cloudy legal picture. As The Chronicle has reported, little consensus exists on the reporting obligations of university foundations. States like California have put laws in place that subject those foundations to open-records requests. Other states, like Connecticut, have laws exempting foundations. The question has divided state courts.

Thursday’s decision was issued as the Koch Foundation continues to pour money into academic programs. The foundation donated $49 million to more than 250 colleges in 2016, according to the Associated Press, a 47-percent spike over the previous year.

At George Mason, students and professors had long pressed to find out more about the university’s Koch ties. In April their pressure led George Mason to release some older agreements, dating as far back as 2003, between outside funders and the university. Those documents revealed that donors had leeway to influence faculty hiring and assessment. George Mason’s president, Ángel Cabrera, said the deals fell short of academic standards and announced a review of gift-acceptance policies.

The students’ lawsuit sought access to a wider swath of unreleased donor records that they believe are currently held by George Mason’s fund-raising foundation. They pledged to appeal Thursday’s decision to the Virginia Supreme Court…

… The judge’s ruling did offer some hope for transparency advocates.

“This decision does not mean that the university has unfettered right to keep secret its use of gifted funds to create programs in compliance with conditions and restrictions imposed upon those gifts,” Tran wrote.

The judge noted that, when it comes to donations with strings attached, those gifts could become public records once they are accepted and used by the university.”


New Data:  Unions Played a Major Role in Reducing Income Inequality!

Image result for unions

Dear Commons Community,

New evidence shows that unions played a major role in reducing income inequality in the United States in the decades when organized labor was strong.   But it also demonstrates that the decline in union power since the 1960s — which may be exacerbated as a result of a recent Supreme Court decision — has contributed to the widening gap between rich and poor.

The new insights come from a working paper, “Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data,” by four economists: Henry Farber, Daniel Herbst and Ilyana Kuziemko of Princeton, and Suresh Naidu of Columbia. They establish that unions have constrained income inequality far beyond their own membership ranks.  As reported in the New York Times in an article written by Susan Dynarski, a professor of education, public policy and economics at the University of Michigan.

“While the scholars can’t pinpoint the precise mechanism at work, they speculate that unions have indirectly increased pay at firms nervous that their own employees might organize. Unions have also lobbied for higher minimum wages and pushed to hold down executive salaries. They have also advocated for broader access to health care, countering a key channel through which income inequality can harm all of society. The findings are particularly relevant in light of the Supreme Court’s June 27 decision in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The court ruled that states can no longer require public employees who are represented by a union — but have chosen not to formally become members — to contribute to the costs of collective bargaining. That will certainly hurt unions financially, and it may lessen their already diminished power.  Income inequality began its steep rise in the 1970s. Economists have been arguing about the origins of this trend since…

In the new study, the four scholars have mined newly available Gallup Organization data going back to the 1930s, based on surveys of American households that include questions about political beliefs as well as union membership, education, and income. A rich trove of these older surveys is now publicly available at the Roper Center at Cornell University.

The four economists painstakingly cleaned and coded hundreds of these surveys spanning nearly 90 years. The data encompass the growth of unions during the 1930s and ’40s, their heyday in the ’50s and ’60s, and their slow decline to the present.

Union workers now earn about 20 percent more than nonunion workers in similar jobs. Remarkably, this union premium has held steady since the 1930s.

Throughout this period, the biggest boost from union membership has gone to the least educated workers, who have, in turn, driven the rise and fall of union membership. The decades following World War II, when unskilled workers formed the union movement’s backbone, marked the most rapid decreases in income inequality. Wages for nonwhite workers were particularly strong then.

But increasing wages for low-skilled union members is just one channel through which unions can reduce income inequality. Unions can also affect the earnings of nonunion workers.

To capture such effects, the researchers broadened their lens to include the entire distribution of workers and their wages beyond those who are in typically unionized jobs and industries. They found that, going back to the 1930s, more unions meant more income equality. During years and in states where workers were more likely to be unionized, income inequality was lower…

…Thanks to the new research, evidence going back nearly a century now shows that unions have formed a critical counterweight to the power of companies. They increase the earnings of the lowest skilled and sharply reduce inequality.

But the Supreme Court’s decision will curtail the capacity of unions to organize and represent workers. The court ruled that unions can no longer collect “agency fees” from those government workers whom they represent but who have chosen not to join. These fees have helped pay for contract negotiations as well as prevent the free-rider problem that arises when only some pay for benefits enjoyed by everyone.

Incomes in the United States are now as unequal as they were in the 1920s. The gulf between rich and poor will widen if unions are weakened further.”

The gulf between rich and poor is already widening for our children and grandchildren!