September 2010 Archives

Why Can't The U.S. Control Immigration?

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The debate over illegal immigration once again dominates the print and visual media in the United States. This debate, which is full of  rancor and invective, has raged for the past four decades while the problem, by and large, has not been addressed by our policy-makers in Washington. Undoubtedly, the tough economic times  have made the scape-goating of "undocumented" workers politically acceptable, although few Americans who employ undocumented workers as roofers, gardeners,  servants, cleaners, dog-walkers or au pairs would concede that they, too, are a part of the problem.

        Nevertheless, the persistence of illegal immigration is another indication of the collapse of the rule of law in contemporary America. Depending upon whose statistics one wishes to accept, before the financial meltdown that began in 2008, there were anywhere from 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants present in the United States. Although these individuals violated American immigration law, their crimes were compounded by the thousands upon thousands of American employers who illegally employed and exploited them while feigning ignorance of their status as ineligible employees. Current federal laws require that prospective employees present proof of citizenship or show that they are lawful alien residents, but Congress, still beholden to corporate interests, has not required that all employers use the E-Verify database created by the U.S. Department of Labor.  .

        Once again, the fear of government control along with purported concerns about privacy and individual rights have stymied the adoption of a very simple mechanism to ascertain citizenship status and to control immigration--a national identification card, which virtually all policy analysts concede would be effective.

        By contrast, European social democracies--even Spain, which, as of 2010 still had a Socialist government--have embraced the use of national ID cards with little difficulty or divisive political debate. In the United States, however, the debate focuses almost entirely upon concerns about alleged government intrusion and threats to privacy and individual liberty. Indeed, few Americans seem to know  that Spain, France, Germany and Sweden, to name but four social democracies, provide more extensive legal protections for privacy than citizens in this country presently enjoy. Ironically, by contrast, the enormous and intrusive amount of personal financial information and data that Equifax, Transamerica and Espiron--three unelected, private, for-profit credit reporting agencies--currently compile and maintain on almost every American citizen barely elicits a critical comment.

        One explanation for these differences may be found in the differing political traditions. European democracies, in contrast to the individualism of American liberal democracy, are communitarian cultures. Even those European countries which experienced the Protestant Reformation in some form--such as England, the north of Germany, or those in Scandinavia--were able to retain a cultural reservoir of traditional Catholic conservative values--the ancien regime. To the present, those residual cultural values emphasize the importance of family and community and support the notion that there exists something called the public interest, or, to use Rousseau's phrase, "the general will," which is separate and distinct from the interests of individuals. Consequently, a number of these European democracies have successfully made the political transition to social democracies with broad safety nets. Canada has accomplished the same. In the United States, by contrast, the persistence of the traditional consensus - which endorses the anti-social individualism which is John Locke's  legacy  to this country -  constrains the ability of citizens and policymakers alike to imagine, or to advocate, policies which promote a social or public good, as opposed to the policies which are calculated to benefit only individuals or special interests.

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What Really Ails American Public Education?

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         Lately, much has appeared in the print media about the malaise of public education in the United States. Numerous reforms have been proposed, many of which involve empowering school administrators, holding teachers accountable for student performance, and creating more charter schools. But what if these reforms exacerbate rather than remedy what ails public education?

           American public education today remains highly decentralized. Because of the existence of a federal system, with its emphasis upon diffused power, local school districts have been created almost entirely through the exercise of state power, in the form of legislative acts. Under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people. Presently, there are approximately 15,000 local school districts in the United States. According to the National Governors Association, state funding of local school districts varies dramatically among states, ranging from about 8 percent in New Hampshire to 74 percent in New Mexico. On average, states fund approximately 50 percent of local school districts' needs from their general budget. Local governments contribute an average of 44 percent, largely from local property taxes. As of 2005, the federal government's average contribution was reported to be 6 percent of a district's budget.

       Although many of the state governments exercise significant control over these local school districts, and some provide significant funding, the primacy of local control is firmly embedded in American political culture and has been repeatedly endorsed by the federal courts. In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez,  411 U.S. 1 (1973), the United States Supreme Court denied a constitutional challenge to the primarily local, and unequal, funding of Texas' public school systems. The court observed that "in Texas education remains largely a local function, and that the preponderating bulk of all decisions affecting the schools is made and executed at the local level."

        The court's refusal to concede to the proposition that unequal funding of local school districts was a denial of equal protection meant that any efforts to create statewide systems of public education, instead of funding them with local property taxes would be futile. "The people of Texas may be justified in believing that other systems of school financing, which place more of the financial responsibility in the hands of the State, will result in a comparable lessening of desired local autonomy."

        In a similar vein, in Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717(1974), the United States Supreme Court restated the ideological conviction of the court's majority that local con418trol of public education was a sacrosanct principle of the American political system. The court set aside a lower court order which required interdistrict busing as a remedy for unconstitutional racial segregation in the Detroit public schools. Despite the compelling equal protection issues presented, the court observed that "the notion that school district lines may be casually ignored or treated as a mere administrative convenience is contrary to the history of public education in our country" and that "no single tradition in public education is more deeply rooted than local control over the operation of schools; local autonomy has long been thought essential both to the maintenance of community concern and support for schools and to the quality of the educational process."    

        The problems caused by a decentralized, unequally-funded system of local public education across the United States are compounded by the existence and tolerance of widespread economic and social inequality which also explains, in large part, the uneven outcomes in America's decentralized education system and the dismal performance of so many of the children who are enrolled. In a report released in March 2009, David Berliner, Regents Professor at Arizona State University, analyzed those "out-of-school factors" (OSFs) which "play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps" that continue to undermine the purpose of the federal "No Child Left Behind" act. Berliner, in a wide-ranging review of the existing data and summary of the educational literature, identified six significant factors among poor children that adversely affected their health and learning opportunities and which therefore "limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth weight and non- genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics."
         These six factors, Berliner concluded, "are related to a host of poverty- induced physical, sociological and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior."

        Berliner further observed that, "Because America's schools are so highly segregated by income, race, and ethnicity, problems related to poverty occur simultaneously, with greater frequency, and act cumulatively in schools serving disadvantaged communities. These schools therefore face significantly greater challenges than schools serving wealthier communities, and their limited resources are often overwhelmed."

        The data which Berliner cites showed that, in 2006-2007, the average white student attended a public school in which about 30 percent of the students were classified as low-income. By contrast, the average black or Hispanic student attended a school in which nearly 60 percent of the students were classified as low-income, while the average American Indian was enrolled in a school where more than half of the students were poor. "These schools," Berliner concluded, "are often dominated by the many dimensions of intense, concentrated, and isolated poverty that shape the lives of students and families."

        If American public education depends for its vitality and its support upon local autonomy, how then does one ensure that, in an increasingly national and global workplace, a high school diploma awarded to a graduate of a secondary school in El Paso, Texas is equivalent to that awarded to a graduate of the Boston Latin School or the Bronx High School of Science? The sad truth of the matter is that, because American public schools are purely creatures of state and local governments, and were not created through the exercise of national legislative powers, in contrast to most European countries, the demands, the financing and the outcomes of these local systems of education vary enormously.

        Today, for example, the United States spends more money as a proportion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product--7.5 percent--on education than do countries in the European Union, but the educational outcomes are significantly worse. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported that, "In most OECD countries, a child at the age of five can now expect to undertake between 16 and 21 years of education during his lifetime either full- or part-time, if present patterns of participation continue. Australia and the United Kingdom, at 20.7 years, show the highest educational expectancy among OECD countries, while in the United States a five year old can expect almost four years of education less during his/her lifetime.

        Children in twelve European counties rank higher in mathematics literacy; and in eight European countries, the children were ranked as possessing better scientific literacy than their peers in the U.S. The 2003 results from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) document the comparatively poor performance in mathematical proficiency, on average, of fifteen year olds in the United States. As the OECD noted, "Out of 30 OECD countries which participated in PISA 2003, the average performance for the United States was statistically higher only than that of five countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Mexico and Turkey) and statistically lower than that of twenty countries."

        Equally a cause for concern, as of 2006, is the fact that the average adolescent in European Union countries completed 17.5 years of education, versus his counterpart in the United States who, on average, completed only 16.5 years of education. In nine European countries, more young people entered university education than in the U.S. and, as of 2006, the United States slipped from first to seventh in the number adults aged 24-35 who have received a bachelor's degree, as opposed to Canada (53 percent), Japan (52 percent), Sweden (42 percent), Belgium (41 percent) and Ireland (40 percent).

        The totality of the evidence suggests that American education, at almost every level, is experiencing a profound crisis and has failed to create a literate, educated citizenry. For example, the National Adult Literacy Survey found that over forty million Americans age 16 and older have significant literacy deficiencies. In addition, more than 20 percent of Americans read at or below a fifth grade level which is far below the level needed to earn a living wage. The data with respect to scientific literacy is also disquieting. Americans in general do not understand what molecules are, less than one third can identify DNA as a key to heredity, and one adult in five thinks that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

        These disturbing trends are replicated the area of citizenship education. If America's secondary schools and its colleges and universities are charged with the responsibility to create an educated citizenry, they have failed miserably in that mission. In a 2005 report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 14,000 freshman and seniors at fifty colleges and universities were administered 60 multiple-choice questions which were intended to measure their knowledge of American history and government, world affairs, and the market economy. The first of its major findings was that "America's colleges and universities fail to increase knowledge about America's history and institutions. There was a trivial difference between college seniors and their freshman counterparts regarding knowledge of America's heritage. Seniors scored just 1.5 percent higher on average than freshman, and, at many schools, seniors know less than freshman about America's history, government, foreign affairs, and economy. Overall, college seniors failed the civic literacy exam, with an average score of 53.2 percent, or F, on a traditional grading scale."

        Also unsettling are the number of parents and children who have opted out of the American system of public education. In Wisconsin, backers of an on- line education program persuaded state lawmakers to keep open eleven other virtual schools, despite a court ruling against them and the opposition of the teachers union. Further, two models of online schooling predominate. In Florida, Illinois, and half a dozen other states, the growth has been led by a state-led, state-financed virtual school that does not give diplomas but offers courses that supplement the traditional school.

        As of 2008, Florida Virtual School, for example, was the largest internet school in the country; 50,000 students are reported to be taking courses. The other model was a full-time online charter school such as Wisconsin Virtual Academy. In 2008 alone, about ninety thousand children got their education from one of 185 such schools nationwide. In Colorado, one school district was using four certified teachers to teach 1,500 students across the state.

        The number of children being home schooled is only one of many indicators that suggests that public education in the United States is in chaos and that the model of locally funded, locally controlled education has become dysfunctional. After reviewing data provided under the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act, educational researchers and statisticians have warned that there is a "dropout epidemic so severe that only about 70 percent of the one million American students who start the ninth grade each year graduate four years later."

        The increasing inequalities among local school districts in United States and between educational outcomes in the United States versus other member states in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are directly related to the ideological stranglehold which the liberal ideology of individualism--which owes, at very least, its inspiration to John Locke--continues to exert over American politics. This tradition of local autonomy in public school systems has led to the emergence of an increasing number of autonomous charter schools which siphon off badly-needed funds and better-performing students from more troubled, urban school systems. This trend, coupled with the existence of so many private secondary schools and colleges and universities, make it virtually impossible for American educational institutions to adopt and enforce uniform learning and graduation requirements or to effectively measure educational outcomes.
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Is the U.S. Supreme Court Biased Ideologically?

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     The nomination of Judge Sotomayor by President Obama cast in sharp relief the issue of whether Supreme Court judges should - or, in fact, do - allow their own cultural experiences or ideological perspectives to influence judicial decision-making. This paper argues that there is evidence that, in the four decades before her nomination, a majority of the justices in the Berger, Rehnquist and Roberts Courts have not hesitated to draw upon their own ideological predilections to shape federal jurisprudence.

      In his Two Treatises Of Civil Government, the English political philosopher, John Locke, argued for limited government. Locke asserted. "The great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under  government, is the preservation of their property..." To what extent have the justices of the Supreme Court adopted and endorsed Locke's views concerning the centrality of private property and the need for limited government?

     Since the 1970s, the federal judiciary has expressed pronounced hostility toward government regulation, civil rights, and legislation in the public interest.  The net effect of this jurisprudence has been to empower the owners of property - corporations and those who already exercise disproportionate influence in our political system - while ratifying the status quo. In fact, a majority of the Supreme Court judges have not hesitated to impose their personal  political  preferences for free-market, anti-regulation policies through the judicial feat of federal pre-emption of state laws and regulations to the contrary.

      Over the past forty years, numerous state statutes which were enacted to benefit corporations have been held by the Supreme Court to preempt more favorable state consumer protection statutes and state labor laws. § 301 of the Labor Management-Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a); the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001-et seq.; the federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, 49 U.S.C. § 11501(h); and 49 U.S.C. § § 41723(b)(4) are examples of federal legislation which courts have held preempt many state statutory provisions to the contrary, even when the state statutes in question have been intended to confer greater legal protection to individual citizens or groups of citizens or to protect against corporate abuses.

     In point of fact, many of the laws and regulations pre-empted by decisions of the Supreme Court were designed by state legislatures to protect the rights of workers and consumers. In 1978, for example, in Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp., 439 U.S. 299 (1978);, the U.S. Supreme Court declared state usury laws to be unavailing against credit card companies engaged in interstate commerce. The effect of that decision was to permit credit-card companies to exact whatever interest rates they wanted, to the detriment of ordinary Americans. 

      As a result the Supreme Court's jurisprudence, corporations in the United States are now the beneficiaries of a legal status which makes them superior to all other citizens. As non-natural "legal persons," they have standing to sue and to be sued. Unless a corporation is dissolved, either voluntarily by actions of its shareholders or involuntarily by state regulatory authorities, the corporation is virtually immortal. Further, unlike ordinary human citizens, corporations - as non-natural legal persons - can never be imprisoned for their misdeeds. In addition, corporations, by virtue of their political influence, since the latter part of the nineteenth century, have been granted the equal protection of the laws.

     This right was granted decades before the same civil rights were accorded to black Americans in the Southern States. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), held that corporations were persons within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, was introduced into the report of the decision by the case law reporter, as a footnote, and it appears nowhere in the text of the decision.

      According to the observers, Justice Waite simply pronounced from the bench, sua sponte, before the beginning of argument that "This court does to wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law, applies to these corporations. We are of the opinion that it does."

      Thereafter, the Court reporter duly entered into the summary record of the Court's findings that "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States, which forbids a state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law." The Santa Clara County decision was especially perverse in that the Waite Court was generally hostile to all claims for the enforcement of equal rights claims of the those recently freed slaves, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and would  ten years later decide the infamous case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). Thus, the protection of property rights was held to be more vital than the protection of living human beings.      

      A century later, in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the matter of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), upheld some modest limits imposed by the U.S. Congress upon individual campaign contributions. More importantly, however, the court held that the campaign contributions by corporations and other large entities were protected by the U.S. Constitution. Congressional attempts to impose restrictions on the financial contributions by corporations and other organizations, because they conflicted with First Amendment guarantees of free speech, would, henceforth, invite strict scrutiny by the court and would require that a compelling state interest had to be shown to pass judicial muster.

      Thirty-four years after the Buckley decision, an even more business-friendly court declared that any restrictions upon campaign financing by corporations violate the free speech provision of the First Amendment. In the matter of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, 558 U.S.___(2010), Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision, reversed two previous precedents which had upheld modest campaign finance regulations. See McConnell v. Federal Election Comm'n, 540 U. S. 93, 203-209 (2003) and Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U. S. 652 (1990). Chief Justice Roberts joined in this decision, notwithstanding his comments before the Senate judiciary Committee at the time of his nomination by President Bush, in which he asserted to have great reverence for the doctrine of stare decisis.

      Justice Kennedy opined that the Court had previously recognized that the First Amendment's protection extended to corporations and that "Under the rationale of these precedents cited, political speech does not lose First Amendment protection 'simply because its source is a corporation;'" further "corporations and other associations, like individuals, contribute to the 'discussion, debate, and the dissemination of information and ideas' that the First Amendment seeks to foster," quoting Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U. S. 765 at 783 (1977).

      By its decisions in Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, the Supreme Court emphasized the ideological commitment of a majority of its justices to Locke's ideological belief that the primary purpose of government is to protect private property in all of its manifestations. Henceforth, non-natural entities - which can only speak through human surrogates - will enjoy a constitutional right to spend unlimited sums of money to influence political elections at the federal and state level.

     This right also raises an equal protection issue since, by way of contrast, ordinary, mortal citizens are still limited under federal law to a ceiling of $2400.00 per candidate or PAC for federal elections and $5,000.00 at the state level. 2 U.S.C. § 431-et seq . As a result of these two decisions, the voices of ordinary citizens and their ability to be heard have been reduced to an almost inaudible whisper in the "marketplace of ideas."
      The word "corporation" does not appear anywhere within the text of the U.S. Constitution. Despite their professed commitment to the doctrine of "original intent," invocations to the First and Tenth Amendments, and pious cant about the "rule of law," the existing record shows that the primary objective of the current Supreme Court's majority is to curtail, whenever possible, government regulation in the public interest and to empower private actors. In that respect alone, the five justices who compose the Court's majority share an ideological commitment to Locke's 17th century philosophy of individualism and limited government.

      In Lochner v, New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), Justice Holmes chided a previous Supreme Court for its ideologically-driven judicial activism; he observed that "the 14th Amendment has not enacted Herbert Spencer's Social Statics..." The question which now needs to be asked is whether five, unelected judges who enjoy life-tenure should be permitted to exercise an ideological veto over this country's political institutions and to thwart the ability of democratically-elected leaders to fashion policies, based perhaps upon a different political theory, that are calculated to address paramount economic and social needs when those policies contradict their worldview? 

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      This Labor Day should remind all of us of what we have lost as American citizens since the 1980s to the politics of selfishness.

    The absence of a coherent industrial policy has remained largely unremarked upon by the pundits and political class, while the fragmented power centers of this country's federal government have not hesitated to endorse policies which enable businesses to out-source, the wealthy to buy trophy homes and stash money in off-shore accounts, and agri-businesses to swallow up small family farms while receiving massive taxpayer subsidies. The political and economic policies pursued during the last three decades of the twentieth century and the first ten years of the twenty-first century neglected and de-funded public goods and infrastructure from railroads to bridges, to economic training programs for the unemployed, to educational grants and programs to improve the quality of education and to increase the number of university graduates.

        Whether the Obama administration will be willing to squander political capital in an effort to address this problem in a serious way remains problematic, given its caution and the financial and political power of entrenched interests and their lobbyists. In addition, the limitations of a federal government in which power is divided and exercised by so many disparate power centers militates against the likelihood of success in any such endeavor.

      By contrast, the European Union countries have had no such aversion to thinking and planning on the macro-economic level. The member states have announced ambitious plans to develop a hydrogen-based economy by 2050 and the union has invested billions of dollars in the development and improvement of infrastructure educational programs, and scientific and technological research and development.

       Another significant reason for the increasing  economic inequality among Americans is directly related to the demise of a viable labor movement in the United States. Throughout the nineteenth century, given their classical liberal ethos, most state courts treated labor unions and strikes as illegal conspiracies in restraint of trade.Slowly, the tide began to turn. As the effects of the Great Depression became pronounced, industrial unionism, organized under the auspices of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), emerged.

        With the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, the right of all workers "to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing" was pronounced for the first time to be national public policy. Other New Deal legislation included the Walsh-Healey Government Contracts Act, which required the payment of prevailing wages on government contracts in excess of $10,000; the Railroad Retirement Act; and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which provided for the first time, with certain exceptions, a nationwide minimum wage floor and maximum workweek of 40 hours per week within three years of its enactment date.

        Since the 1940s, however, the American labor movement has been forced into retreat. After the death of Franklin Roosevelt and the election of a Republican Congress in 1946, the right-wing in the United States became resurgent. The first great success of New Deal critics was achieved with the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, which was passed over President Truman's veto. The effect of this legislation was to outlaw "closed shops" and to permit individual states to allow "open shops" - i.e. shops in which elected unions could not require all of the employees to belong to the unions, irrespective of whether the non-union employees also received and enjoyed the benefits of collective bargaining.

        As a result of that legislation, corporations began an inevitable migration to the South where welcoming state legislatures hastily enacted "right-to-work" laws. The migration of these manufacturing companies away from the unionized urban centers of the Midwest and North left hundreds of mill towns impoverished and desolate, and the union movement was effectively eviscerated.

        It did not take long for the owners of corporations to discover that, once they had escaped from the threat of unionization, they could escape almost all government regulation by moving their business and manufacturing operations out of the United States to Third World countries. In an article that appeared in the Nation magazine,[ "Mill Hill Populism: Meet The New Face of Populism in Post-NAFTA North Carolina,"  May 12, 2008] , Bob Moser noted that "North Carolina, first in the South for its share of jobs in manufacturing, long benefited from out-sourcing. Decades ago Northern manufacturers shifted jobs to low-wage, Southern states with severe restrictions on organized labor. Now the 'old economy' parts of all these states were reeling from post-NAFTA version of out-sourcing. Since 1993, North Carolina has bled more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs...The pace of closures isn't slacking, either. Last year, 10% of the state's textile jobs were lost...."

        Even among the few unionized workers still employed in manufacturing, a two-tier pay system was imposed by management to which unions were forced to acquiesce because of downward economic pressures: younger workers now make substantially less per hour than more senior employees who perform the same work. The effect of this two-tier system denies younger workers upward mobility and divides workers based solely upon dates of hire: "The changing job market is undercutting entry-level wages for those who do not go to college. 'In the 1960s and 1970s, you saw high school graduates getting good jobs at Ford and AT&T, jobs that in inflation-adjusted terms were paying $20 or $25 in today's wages," said Sheldon Danziger, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. "Nowadays most kids with just high school degrees will work in service-sector jobs for $10 or less..."

        Perhaps as worrisome are the long-term trends which suggest that, absent substantive structural reform, unemployment will remain even more intractable long after the economic meltdown which began in 2008. Between 1975 and 2005, entry-level wages for male high school graduates who did not graduate from college declined 19% after adjustment for inflation while the incomes of their female counterparts fell 9%. Lastly, men who were in their thirties in 2004 are reported to have had a median income of 12% less, after adjusting for inflation, than did their fathers' generation when the latter were in their thirties. 

        The effect of this continuing economic trend has been to show, once again, that the practice of liberal individualism produces results quite different from its theory: In an world of unrestrained competition, only the few, the wealthier, the more powerful, the more resourceful, the better educated, the more mobile, will be able to maximize their opportunities; everyone else gets left behind.

         Thus, according to the U.S.  Department of Labor [Union Member Summary,  January 22, 2010], as of 2010, only 12.3 per cent of employed wage and salary workers were union members. Not surprisingly, many of the same non-union employees did not seem to understand that their ability to influence working conditions and wages, as solitary individuals who lacked comparable bargaining power with managers and owners of business, was virtually nil. Apparently, however, the myth of the autonomous, self-made individual who can receive recognition, remuneration and advancement solely by dint of one's own hard work continues to resonate in the workplace to the present, notwithstanding all of the evidence to the contrary.
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