Tag Archive for unions

Current economy: unsustainable, unreasonable, unfair

Mind those teeth...

Mind those teeth…

To paraphrase: It is hard to drain the swamp when you are up to your waist in alligators. Much of what we try to address will not in the end be successful unless we deal with root causes. We need to beat off the alligators but this will never end unless we drain the swamp.

Income and wealth disparities have been growing at an alarming rate. Many, including some in Congress, speak out against food stamps and other assistance for the poor (Cory Gardner just voted to discontinue funding food stamps). If workers were paid a living wage, wages were not routinely stolen from workers and corporations would not trim costs by cutting workers, expecting remaining salaried workers to make up the slack, while paying hugely inappropriate salaries and bonuses to top management and board members, there would be less need for assistance.

Eventually, the huge and increasing disparity in earnings and wealth will come back to bite the corporations. Low pay results in less purchasing power for many millions. This reduces sales tax collection, also hurting local governments. Low pay leads to poverty and homelessness. It leads to discouraged portions of the populations. Unemployment among the young leads to crime.

The same people who voted down food stamps and other food assistance while funding large agriculture support tax breaks to big oil at a time when big oil is making incredible profits, while denying small incremental financial support for renewable energy, also brought us Citizens United. The same party continues, in the face of Supreme Court rulings to the contrary, with attempts to make it less likely that minorities, the elderly and some rural citizens will be able to vote (Scott Gessler continues to mislead us on the number of non-citizens voting while proposing to make it more difficult for thousands of citizens to vote.)

The Republican Party should be just as worried as the Democrat Party about Citizens United. Recently the Chinese government offered to buy a large U.S. food processing company. The press talks about worries that the Chinese will reduce food safety. The real concern is that as an owner of a U.S. corporation, the Chinese government will be able to support candidates of their choosing and influence elections and thus laws without having to disclose their hand in this misguided gift from the Bush court.

Historically the robber barons, mining companies, large manufactures, etc., mistreated employees and developed monopolies. Thanks to unions and an informed public, the worst of these abuses were stopped. Unfortunately, income and wage disparity has become a huge crisis. The very wealthy control too much of the wealth and thus power. Greed runs rampant. Every effort seems to be made to receive bigger and bigger portions of the pie at the expense of the many, first the poor and now the middle class. Even athletes and other entertainers fight for obscene salaries while educators, law enforcement and medical professions fall back in real buying power.

Gone are the days when a single salary could provide a comfortable lifestyle. It is not a bad thing that talented people can make more than an average earning, but when taken to an extreme this is not in the interest of collective society. Very high salaries come at the expense of poorly paid workers, workers who need two jobs even with a working spouse to make ends meet.

Too much money from relatively few sources influences elections in a way that defeats the concept of one person one vote. Politicians are frequently unduly influenced by large contributors and special interests group such as big oil, pharmaceuticals and the NRA. These groups spend huge amounts on lobbyists. We have legislators in Washington, D.C., who fight for weapons that the military says its doesn’t need and doesn’t want. We allow pharmaceutical companies to practice “Pay for Delay,” whereby they pay other companies to not produce and sell generics at a lower price. We pay, insurance companies pay and Medicare pays more. This also goes against the basic tenants of patent law.

This is not about a liberal agenda. This is about a better America. It is about living up to our values. It is about long-term sustainability of our economic system. Look around at the unrest in other countries. While there are several reasons for unrest, a good deal of the energy comes from disparity in wealth that leaves many with bare subsistence and little hope for anything better for them or their children.

What they do is not spontaneous or random. It is planned.

Sadly, it takes a crisis for most Americans to understand when something is seriously wrong. More often than not they fail to see blatant partisan agendas until those agendas slap them in the face, or the wallet. Such is the case with the outrageous actions and beliefs of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and all of the like-minded elected representatives up and down the government ladder.

The Republicans have been on a roll with their lies, immoral belief system and inside out, upside down attempts at explanations of damned near everything. With the money and power of special interest businesses behind them, they have been able to milk discontent to their liking. Organizations like Americans for Prosperity (of trans-national corporations and other over-sized business entities) and the money of the likes of the Koch Brothers have hijacked the concerns of millions and focused them into a “Tea Party” of discontent to capture governorships, state legislatures, and the House of Representatives.

Make no mistake about it. There is a Conservative Agenda long ago outlined and executed. They are strategic geniuses with a tenacity that is satanic in nature.

When, where and how did all of this planning begin? It began at least in 1981, when the Patron Saint of Conservatism Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency of the United States. It began because they had captured the highest office in the land (indeed, in the world) for conservatism for the first time since Herbert Hoover. Eisenhower was impure. So was Nixon.

It began in earnest with the formation of an organization called the Council of National Policy, also in 1981.

The Council for National Policy is a highly secretive organization that claims over six hundred members consisting of the most powerful religious, political, business and media conservatives in the nation. Initially their membership was publicly available and that listing can be found on the Internet. Coloradans might be surprised, or maybe not, at who from our state appears on this list. It is reported that Joseph Coors provided the seed money.

As attention began to focus on them, the organization went substantially underground. Its membership is confidential and by invitation only. Members come from government, religion, business, media and conservative think tanks responsible for providing contrived “studies” that assist with the conservative talking points that are repeated endlessly on talk television and radio.

The group meets three times a year and revealing what is discussed is prohibited. Attempts are made to keep locations and the invited speakers a secret. But in recent years, capable investigative reporters and media pressure have forced the organization to be more open. George Bush and Dick Cheney have been keynote speakers at the conferences. Other speakers include Grover Norquist, Oliver North, Robert Bork and Rick Santorum, to name a few

Initially conceived and created by religious Dominionists, the marriage with Republican Conservatives across the spectrum of influence is now complete.

Dominionists have absorbed the financial positions of business conservatives and translated them into the Gospel of Prosperity, a gospel that says God wants you to be wealthy and that if you do as you are told, you will be. If you are in need or poor, it is because you have been disobedient to God’s will and you deserve your suffering. They will usually not say this when visible to the public at large, but they will say this in somewhat protected confines.

Financial and corporate conservatives recognize and need the numbers of Dominionists (frequently known as the religious right or fundamentalists) and have no issue with the creation of a theocracy. It maintains allegiance. It establishes authority. It provides a voting army.

And those who have integrated both Dominionism and a fascistic definition of capitalism have now risen to power in large numbers.

The well-developed agenda of the Council for National Policy explains why Republicans never vary from the positions they advocate – no matter how provably wrong and no matter what polls may reveal about the public’s positions as new information or changing circumstances change viewpoints. They are not interested in representing the public at large. They are only interested in convincing enough of the public to win elections. Any variance risks lost time if not collapse of the objectives. Achieving their goals demands no modification, no acquiescence, no compromise.

It also explains why and how they “over-reach” and claim a mandate whenever they are successful in gaining control of a legislative body, a state or a branch of the U.S. government. It makes no difference to them whether they win by one vote or by one million. A mandate is always claimed. The objective is to gain the power and codify the agenda – by any means available or necessary.

It is why you hear them claim “the American people” (fill in the blank) even when the American people do not agree with them. It is why Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Scott of Florida, and Chris Christie of New Jersey, to name a few who have grabbed the headlines recently, are ramming an agenda down the throats of any and all. Truth, justice and the American democratic way be damned.

This time, however, they have picked on the American worker and there are lots of them. American workers do not like to be insulted, to be used, to be abused. The American worker is opening his or her eyes. The American worker is recognizing that even if they are not a member of a union, they are the next target, the ultimate target. The absence of jobs, the uncertainty of retaining jobs, the threatened loss of a middle class or even a working class lifestyle is eating away at their consciousness.

For those who have not yet clarified their feelings and perceptions, let me remind them of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

U.S. to Protect Union Organizing Laws

The National Labor Relations Board announced it plans to sue four states — Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah – to overturn recently approved state constitutional amendments that prohibit private sector workers from choosing a union through a process known as “card check.” The four states’ amendments would require the use of secret ballot elections, while federal law makes card check a possible option.

In a statement, the labor board said, “The four amendments differ in language, but all conflict with federal law by closing off a well-established path to union representation recognized by the Supreme Court and protected by the National Labor Relations Act.”

Card check is an alternative to secret elections. Employers typically do not like the method because it removes the two-month electioneering period before the vote and affirms union representation by signed cards by a majority of the affected employees. Labor officials sometimes prefer this method to protect employees from bullying by employers and threats to close the operation. The latter scares employees who need their jobs.

As a member of management in the 1970s, I saw the bullying and misinformation first hand when the company’s drivers sought to unionize.