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Friday, January 9, 2009

GIVE AMERICAN WORKERS A BIG BREAK!

"Political freedom without economic equality is a pretense, a fraud, and a lie."
- Russian theorist Mikhail Bakunin -

""Less than 8 percent of private sector workers belonged to a union in 2004, and overall, only 12.5 percent of American workers carry a union card - down from about one-third of workers in labor's heyday of the 1950s."
- Fox "News" analyst Linda Chavez -

"Jobs are disappearing from every sector of the economy, from engineers to health care workers, forcing hundreds of thousands of families into unemployment and low-paying jobs."
- Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) -

"Unfair trade agreements, passed by both Republicans and Democrats, have sent millions of jobs to other countries. We need to stop this hemorrhaging and find ways for American workers to compete in the new market."
- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) -

"Median wages of production workers, who comprise 80 percent of the workforce, haven't risen in 30 years, adjusted for inflation."
- Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich -

"In this 'New Economy,' there are no standards, no borders, and no rules. Clearly, the global economy isn't working for workers in China, Indonesia, and Burma, any more than it is for workers here in the U.S."
- AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney -

"There is no social program in this country that is as important as a good job that pays well, that gives someone an opportunity to go to work, have some security, have benefits, take care of their family and have a good life."
- Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) -

"We want only loyal workers who are grateful from the bottom of their hearts for the bread which we have let them earn."
- Nazi Germany Industrialist Gustav Krupp -
(STUFF IT, Krupp! What you REALLY wanted was SLAVE LABOR)!

It is high time to stop beating up on the American worker. Today, though tops in the world in productivity, they are often subtly referred to as greedy and overpaid, (especially union workers), with a sense of undeserved entitlement. This is absolute bullshit constantly being soft-pedaled in the Op Ed pages of the notoriously wrong-wing, anti-labor, pro-corporate Wall Street Journal. It is echoed repeatedly, like a mantra, by that paper's severely misguided avid followers and parrots in the business community and Chamber of Commerce circles. The fact of the matter is that the American worker has been getting screwed for decades by both business AND government and this practice must now come to a screeching halt. FINALLY - now that conservative Republican Wall Street Journal types have nearly driven us into a 1930s-style depression with their absurd economic policies - FINALLY, our people and government are beginning to wake up. Come January 20, we may at long last start seeing some economic policy implementations beneficial to the middle class and poor rather than just the wealthy and big business. We have not seen such policy in more than 35 years, and its return will be a most welcome sight!

We have been fed a number of deliberate economic lies by the conservative Republican Wall Street Journal crowd for years. Each has been disastrous when adopted as policy. The first was that American workers were paid too much, so a concerted effort began to destroy labor unions and freeze or roll back wages and benefits. Today, moronic conservative mouthpieces like Mitch McConnell, Tom Coburn, and John Boehner love to spread this bullshit. This is a blatantly transparent attempt to pass blame for our current downslide away from their own misguided policy and onto organized labor. Their claim that Michigan UAW laborers are paid $70-$80 per hour (including benefits and retirement) is a bald-faced lie designed to destroy the auto union. They know damn well the REAL figure is around $40 per hour, a mere couple of dollars higher than their beloved southern, non-union Toyota workers. Of course, they mention nothing about how corporate boards have paid themselves exorbitant salaries for years while raping the American worker for much of the past 3 decades. In their view, that is perfectly ok, and the way capitalism is supposed to work. These guys are completely nuts: Stevie Wonder has clearer vision than they! Since the numbers of working poor and middle class VASTLY outnumber those of the tiny wealthy elite, and since those on the bottom and middle income levels are the ones who keep the economy going with volume mortgage, car, rent, grocery, and consumer goods expenditures, this "cut their wages" effort has now finally resulted in our economy contracting. Prior to this, the negative effect was a flood of buying on credit and resultant indebtedness, which has shamefully led us to change from the world's greatest lender nation 25 years ago to the world's hugest debtor nation now. In only 25 years! While a bit of foreign investment is always good and healthy, the increasing level we are at today, with foreign countries buying and now operating some of our ports, roads, and even some of our bigger corporations, we have reached an UNHEALTHY level which threatens our future leverage and freedom. Nice going, conservative idiots.

Another lie was that, by enabling the already wealthy to greatly expand their wealth, all levels of income would prosper and grow wealthier too, as a sort of "trickle down" effect. This was perhaps the biggest and most criminal lie of all. "Trickle down" economics have benefitted only the rich. Repeated tax cuts for the wealthy and huge corporations have NOT led to domestic investment and created millions of high-paying jobs here, as was initially promised. In fact, the exact OPPOSITE has occurred. Millions of jobs, and even entire plants, have LEFT this country for cheap and sometimes slave-labor markets overseas. American workers' wages and benefits have now been firmly frozen for a number of years, and a good many of them have dropped. Meanwhile, wealthy business owners', as well as corporate CEOs' and board members' salaries and perks have shot up as high as a Mars rocket. This is not progress and expansion. It is regression and contraction. The conservative crowd loves to trumpet the virtues of self-reliance and personal responsibility. We have seen precious little of these coming from them in recent years, though. They should practice what they preach. Their perversion of capitalism has resulted in a new form of domestic economic slavery for American workers. The "free market" has only realistically been free for business owners, officers of huge corporations, and the wealthy. American workers have lost ground and flexibility. Once more, we can thank the conservative Republican Wall Street Journal / Chamber of Commerce crowd for these detrimental developments, too. Great job, you criminals!

It's so ridiculous to hear the wealthy and their wannabe dreamers and apologists scream "socialism" or "class warfare" when workers complain about the economic status quo and cry out for higher taxes for the rich and a more level playing field regarding income levels. CLASS WARFARE? Exactly whom is attacking whom here? Which group is launching the artillery? If freezing or lowering workers' wages, breaking their unions, and sending their jobs overseas while simultaneously vastly raising your own salary doesn't constitute an act of war and dropping a bomb directly on American workers, I don't know what does! The pot should definitely not be calling the kettle black here!

Yet another dangerous myth fed us by the Wall Street Journal clique has been that deregulation would improve business efficiency and lower costs. What we have seen instead have been runaway energy and pharmaceutical costs, a massive mortgage and banking meltdown, widespread corruption IN Wall Street itself, plus an unheard-of and rising number of food poisoning cases all across the country.

Finally, we come to the unrestricted-free-trade-is-good-for-everybody lie. This "free trade" mentality has led to disastrously one-sided trade deals NOT beneficial to our interests. It has enabled China to peg its currency at a ridiculously low rate, effectively undercutting us severely on the world market. It has caused a gigantic trade deficit here, the net effect of which has been a massive and rapid transfer of our wealth out of the country. This has made it possible for China, the most populous nation on earth, to considerably grow its military and transform it from a defensive posture into an offensive one. It has also made it possible for they and the Arabian oil states to buy up billions of dollars of our national debt. That's right, folks: When you borrow money these days and pay it back, you're effectively paying it back to the Chinese and to wealthy Arabs. NOT a very smart move, conservative "free-traders."

But now, let's return to the besieged American worker. There is something seriously wrong in this country when people are led to believe that those who sweat and get their hands dirty manufacturing products or providing services are somehow greedy for wanting a bigger slice of our economic pie, while those at the top who hold them down or transfer their jobs overseas are the only ones deserving of greater wealth and admiration. There is something fundamentally wrong with our country and its economic system when it effectively lowers our standard of living and forces our now overworked, underpaid, and highly productive workforce to compete for jobs with lesser-educated and less productive workers in developing countries. And there is something morally wrong with our government and business community when they pursue foolish, one-sided trade deals, and vote down minimum wage increases 9 times out of 10 (even as their own wages rise continually). We desperately need a change in economic direction, toward new pioneering technologies we can export at a PROFIT so we can reverse the downward trend conservative economic policies have put us on. The answer to restoring this economy's health lies in putting MORE money in the hands of our workers, not less. It is now time to stop heaping abuse on the overwhelming majority of our population, and to GIVE AMERICAN WORKERS A BIG BREAK!!!

IN A FEW DAYS: "WHY AMERICAN HEALTH CARE COSTS SO MUCH"

7 comments:

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

ditto! admiring the collection of quotes too....! the process continues, eh? LOL

Jack Jodell said...

As the songwriter once wrote, "The road is long, with many a winding turn..." The process MUST continue, even though it sometimes seems to be two steps forward, one step backward, one step forward, a half step backward, etc. We have walked backward long enough over the past generation. It is time for a new progression and, hopefully, a big breakthrough. It's frustrating, though, that those in the upper elite never seem to learn. They hated communism, but they CAUSED communism! They despise labor unions, yet their greed and short-sightedness is responsible for them coming into being. Since they never seem to learn, the rest of us just have to keep on pushing. It's always an ebb and flow, but I believe WE SHALL OVERCOME! Thanks, Gwendolyn!

Yellow Dog said...

Preach it, brother Jodell.

American workers deserve far more than a break; we deserve a chance to show what kind of real economy we can build if you give us the financial tools the repugs and their buddies just waste.

Or what the hell - forget the money. Just give us unfettered unions.

We'll do the rest.

Jack Jodell said...

Great point, Yellow Dog! It started with Taft-Hartley, and ever since then (Reagan and PATCO; Bush and his outsourcing and "jobs Americans won't do"; and now the McConnell crew with their $70 an hour jobs charge), the right of workers to collectively bargain for better wages has been under steady attack and erosion. But no one questions business owners when they effectively set wages and prices or buy government favors and preferential taxation. The time for union resurgence and TRUE, unshackled worker representation is long, long overdue!

Manifesto Joe said...

It seemed to me 25 years ago, during Reagan's first term, that what the right wing had in mind was to give America's work force a Third-World makeover. Reagan had so many people charmed and conned that you couldn't tell very many people that.

Now, after Bush II, the reality is upon us.

Manifesto Joe said...

An afterthought about Taft-Hartley: The "right-to-work" argument sways a lot of Americans who don't think union membership should be a condition of employment. That's a lot of how the reactionary 80th Republican Congress managed to put that one over back in '47.

Have you ever worked for an employer who set conditions on your employment? I have worked for many to this day, with the conditions all coming from management. I fail to see the problem with a few conditions coming from a labor union. Management wouldn't have a business without the workers, so why not some give-and-take?

I guess this is yet another example of American "free-market" brainwashing.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Manifesto Joe. Let's face it: EVERY employer sets conditions for employment. You're absolutely right (ooops, I mean correct) about how there should be nothing wrong with WORKERS (i.e. unions) setting conditions. And, like so much of the reactionary right's erminologies, the term "free market" is a misnomer too. The only freedom permitted is for business owners, not employees. That is why government and regulation are absolutely necessary. Government is the only buffer and protector from business excesses that workers and the public at large have!