There was an interesting study made in the nineties and reported in Joan Ciulla’s The Working Life. Executives were polled about what motivated workers. Their answers ranged from ceremonies to non-cash awards. They were then asked about what motivated executives, and as one, they chorused: money.
This poll not only gives us a glimpse of how the exploitation of workers generates complex denial rituals among capitalists, but it also gives us a glimpse of how politicians in the neo-lib era think. Both Republicans and Democrats have been agreed, in the last thirty or forty years, that executives need lots and lots of money. Our recent cure for the depression, which was handed out by Dr. Obama and his treasury secretary and Fed Chief, was very, very heavy on the money for executives. But for workers – well, the Republicans have come up with ardent defenses of the second amendment, and the Dems have come up with retraining workers after we pass marvelous “free trade” agreements to undermine their jobs and salaries. Although to be fair, the Dems sometimes come up with things like Romneycare, which makes sure to put in place a complex set of impediments and forms so that the medical care for all thing doesn’t get out of hand. After all, the workers love those ceremonies!
I was reminded of this by the recent launch of a think group dedicated, on the one hand, to stopping the Dem bandwagon of Medicare for all, which has become faddish among Dem pols, and making sure that some “bi-partisan” health care approach, one that is acceptable to “stakeholders” (the investors in insurance companies, drug companies, hospital corporations, and etc.) and the ceremony-fetishizing worker. It is led by Andy Slavitt, who, to give him credit, was great at opposing the drive to abolish ACA last year. He was less great in opposing any universal expansion of health care. And he has saddled up with such great minds as former Republican senator Bill Frist, who sponsored a bill for privatizing medicare when he was in Congress.
Money for capital, non-cash awards for the rest of us: there’s a bi-partisan platform we, or at least the we who writes and the editorials and runs Congress, can get behind!