In the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision, it’s become commonplace to note the growing dominance of a small segment of the economic elite on our political process. But what exactly are the rich and powerful doing with their newfound influence? In this edition of Smart Talk, Ed Dodson and his guest, Gordon Lafer discuss how corporate lobbies are leveraging the Reagan era de-federalization legacy to underwrite laws that weaken labor unions, lower wages and degrade essential public services one State at a time. The aggregate result is a marginalized working class and a growing income inequality that is not only bad for economic growth but also undermines our democratic institutions.
Gordon Lafer is a political economist and Professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center. He has written widely on issues of labor and employment policy, and is author of The One Percent Solution – How Corporations are Remaking America One State at a Time (Cornell University Press, 2017). Professor Lafer has served as an economic policy analyst for the Office of the Mayor in New York City and has testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and state legislatures. He is also the founding co-chair of the American Political Science Association’s Labor Project, and has taught as a visiting faculty member at the University of Massachusetts’ Union Leadership Academy and at the Universidad Latina de America in Michoacán, Mexico.