The contrast between the -- heavy, creative thinking -- applied to the economic problems of dozens of underdeveloped nations we know little of and the almost total lack of -- esoteric innovation -- applied American labor's difficulties...
...would be inexplicable did we not have some understanding of how the pea sized human mid-brain (seat of motivations) can freeze activity in the (even most powerful) fore-brain.
For the poorest third-world economies (we know little about), dozens of factors are mixed with current studies and historical perspectives in attempt to produce a powerful formula for prosperity.
For the sake of ever more underpaid labor in the world's richest economy, it is impossible to get the best progressives to pick up on and proselytize for labor the simplest, straightforward force multiplier used successfully on every continent on earth (in French Canada in N.A.) to stave off the impoverishing race to the bottom: sector-wide labor agreements.
Why? I think this case of mental paralysis can be blamed largely on "boy" hunting group instinct. While it is possible, even invited, to propose new methods for the hunt before or after: DURING the hunt it would totally throw off the ability to cooperate if we suddenly began spouting "great ideas." You keep your mouth shut -- for now (forever?).
I hypothesize that our (male) progressive economists (anyway) are forever stuck in "DURING" the hunt mode, even when they are most alone in the library -- as they calculate how to participate in a national conversation. If they expect to get listened to nationally it seems extremely imprudent to them to propose anything their society has never opened its eyes to consider before. This freezing effect is reinforced by the intuitive boy understanding that all the other boys are operating on the same basis and any deviation from pack interaction standards will drop like a lead balloon -- or would it?
Meanwhile every little country that we think we have our hands on the little levers of invites esoteric think tank calculations until you wonder how anybody could think so much. Meanwhile the most obviously, most critically needed moves for American labor never make it to the national forum.
PS. Whenever progressives begin to wake up to sector-wide they might want to consider my own new candidate for "esoteric" force multiplier: repeating union certification and de-certification elections (every four years) should be held at every workplace -- the most important effect of which may be to keep union leadership from becoming entrenched and out of touch (the biggest complaint about unions and the most quoted reason for opposing unionization) because leadership rarely has any serious opposition in the form of competing candidates from within for union offices. Under sector-wide, nonunion workplaces still operate under contracts worked out by those that are unionized; so membership will have a real choice.