Paper, scissors, rock and a hard place

There is an old truism (cite?) that when capitalism and democracy come into conflict, capitalism will always win. But for a long time now it has seemed that the holy virtues of the market are failing the political preferences of the American right. Reasons become excuses and victors turn themselves into victims when they really have to fight against ideas they once supported like market power, not to mention the popular vote. It’s all a bit embarrassing once you step back for a moment. We’ve just gotten used to it, but the whole concept of ‘far-left finance’ is just as crackpot as ‘left-wing corporate media.’ We’re sorry, but no:

Economic modernity isn’t what it used to be. Today, some of America’s largest investors are pension funds that aggregate the savings of unions and public-sector employees, and mutual funds that pool the retirement accounts of white-collar professionals. None of these constituencies are remotely as demographically or ideologically similar to the contemporary conservative base as the capitalist class of yore was to the right-wingers of the mid-20th century. Indeed, over the past 70 years, America’s top executives, money managers, and professionals have grown more diverse, cosmopolitan, and socially liberal, even as the GOP base has grown increasingly animated by exclusionary nationalism and culture wars.

At the same time, consumer-facing brands now covet the favor of young city dwellers, both within America’s borders and beyond them. This is because such consumers are more likely to try new products than your average elderly person in rural America, and the former’s brand loyalty is more valuable, since they are less likely to die soon. That reality, combined with the imperative to compete outside the U.S. market, leads many of America’s most visible firms to align themselves, however superficially, with a progressive and cosmopolitan cultural politics.

Finally, the reality of climate change has given private investors both ideological and financial reasons to disfavor the carbon-intensive industries that supply a disproportionate share of the GOP’s corporate funding. Many public employees and socially liberal professionals like the idea of investing in the green transition, while plenty of far-sighted financiers believe that heavy exposure to fossil fuel assets is unwise in the long-term.

To blame this on some sort of woke anything is just a slur. They can’t compete so they just whine. Refusing to acknowledge where the markets and money flow is not some sort of physics you can undermine with new made-up laws of specialer relativity because you don’t agree with gravity.

Babies are at least honest about what’s in their diapers.

Longview, Taking in the

An intense labor battle is happening in Longview, Washington, but it is not news so pay no attention.

One of the most determined local union struggles in recent times is unfolding on the waterfront at the Port of Longview. The struggle pits members and supporters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) against EGT, a multinational consortium that built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview, largely with nonunion, out-of-town labor, and now seeks to operate it without employing ILWU members, in violation of its lease.

On July 11, up to 100 members and supporters of Longview’s 202-member ILWU Local 21 were arrested after demonstrators knocked down a chainlink fence and entered the terminal; arrestees included the presidents of ILWU locals in Vancouver and Portland. Then, after midnight on July 14, as many as 600 demonstrators gathered, and about 200 occupied train tracks to block a mile-long Burlington Northern Santa Fe train from delivering grain to the terminal. That prompted the railroad to say it would suspend deliveries while the dispute continued.

ILWU’s cause appears to have widespread support in Longview, a town of 37,000 with an economy centered on manufacturing, forest products, and the port. An initial print run of 800 support placards ran out in three or four days, said Local 21 President Dan Coffman; more are on the way. As many as 250 local businesses are displaying the signs, which read: “We Support the ILWU in the fight for a decent standard of living in our community.” Hundreds more appear in yards and vehicles.

Pickets and placards are the latest front in a four-year local battle with EGT LLC, the multinational consortium; the dispute is also in federal court.

EGT, which stands for Export Grain Terminal, is a joint venture run by the giant agribusiness multinational Bunge in partnership with Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation and South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean Co. Bunge, which reported a $2.4 billion profit for 2010, has a 51 percent controlling interest in the venture.