HUCTW: From each according as she is able to each according to her needs.


Impossible dream? Perhaps. But an experimentalist must always ask the question: “compared to what?” The Pareto idea rejects policies that disadvantage anyone no matter how well off. It is extraordinarily hard to engineer in practice and has known logical limits. [Discovered in part by Ken Arrow who was at Harvard for a time.] Yet classical economics claims to be optimally fair.

I don’t buy the premises. And I’ve done field work.

Is Harvard a ‘progressive employer’? My claim is that it depends. In the case of the many HUCTW members who are faculty secretaries, it depends very much on the personality and politics of the specific faculty member. In the case of people who work in the large hierarchical units like the Harvard College Library the answer is much more complex…

Aside from the exclusion of the majority of humans [he used ‘he’], Marx’ idea is eminently worth keeping in mind. I have never seen it made to work without compromise. The point is to be honest about what compromises you are making. The road to narrow sectarianism is paved with ideological purity.
Unions are by nature creatures of the left, but to date they have always been part of organizations dominated by hierarchy. In theory, unions are free to choose any organization the membership sees fit. In practice, management can and does influence these decisions. Unions are also regulated by federal law. Knowing what the law actually does depends on who controls the means of enforcement which is divided between the the executive and the courts. The national labor relations board and the department of labor are the two most significant bodies of the executive. 35 years of the rule of the right has left a definite footprint on these bodies and the courts. My difference with both the current ‘leadership’ of the union and the ‘group variously known’* is in the details of challenging this aggregation of power – how? when? for what purpose? at what cost?


*to appear.

HUCTW: Pension matters.
Fen’s Law

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