Obama recently wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for a massive wave of deregulation, supposedly to free up business to create more jobs and make our economy more competitive. Politicians love to claim they are creating jobs, particularly when unemployment is high. But the claim of “job creation” is really just a cover for deregulations, subsidies, bailouts, and other policies that increase profits. Business will hire more people when it is profitable to do so, not necessarily when government gives them a handout, as was seen in the wake of the massive Wall Street bailout and the less massive bailout of Detroit. Indeed, after the auto manufacturers’ were paid off by the government, jobs were cut, in collusion with the UAW.
This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it was halting the implementation of ergonomics regulations. According to OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels, ergonomic injuries are the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in the U.S. (They comprise 28% of all workplace injuries). The defeated regulation would have required businesses to count ergonomic injuries and was already considered a compromise (weakening tougher ergonomic rules implemented during the Clinton administration). The move effectively kills all ergonomic workplace regulation.
Obama’s deregulation orgy and his self-lubrication for business are not just indications of Obama’s willingness to capitulate to big business, but of the weakness of organized labor. The ruling elite have been growing cockier, and it’s not just because the Republicans took Congress in the last elections. The number of unionized workers has never been lower (see Impending Demise of Unions), and the union bosses seem uninterested in doing anything about it, like organizing new and existing members to take collective job actions. Until labor is willing to rise up and make life painful for the bosses, the bosses will feel emboldened to take more and more from workers, whether it’s workplace safety, pensions, benefits or compensation or even the right to strike.