Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Honor of Labor Day: Freedom and Prosperity! For Whom?

Free, freedom, and prosperity are wonderful words and concepts with life-altering implications. Of course, these words also deeply and favorably resonate with most Americans. The key question is are they applied equally to all, or to just a few with crumbs thrown to the rest as placation? Freedom, prosperity, benefits, and jobs have been the buzz words for the past 20 years; they've even been used to describe recent wars.

In reality, the free market economy, free (vs. right to work) states, free trade agreements, prosperity to work and innovate, as well as anti-unionism, deregulation, outsourcing, corporate subsidies, corporate personhood, too-big-to-fail corporations, monopolies, and media/propaganda megaliths have been created and used by the top 10-20% of the world's elite to maintain and consolidate their financial and net worth, as well as their power. They misuse "socialism" as a rallying cry against public health care, unions, and worker benefits.

Worker's jobs, salaries and benefits have been reduced or eliminated to increase the wealth, benefits and golden parachutes of the top 20%. Then, those same 20% point to unions and union workers who still have decent wages and benefits and make them the bad guys. 'See! They have what you don't. Go after them!' 'They're socialists!' These are emotional appeals, not facts.

What should be happening is that we bottom 80% should all be working together to demand a major reduction in the CEO-to-worker wage and benefit ratio. CEO's now earn over 300% more than the average worker, compared to 25% in 1965. Our wages, benefits, pensions, and jobs, have been reduced or elimated to increase their wealth and power. It is a simple, and perverse, inverse relationship.

Freedom? Nevada is a Right to Work state where businesses are free to work and innovate, and it has both the highest unemployment and foreclosure rate in the country. We're now reaping the benefits of "free," unregulated businesses.

Of course, corporations have been subsidized by us for decades and they've recently been bailed out by all of us (a "socialist" collective supporting the ones who failed?). For whom has all of this been free? Certainly not most of the bottom 80% of us who only hold 7% of our country's financial wealth! The elite who have benefited from all of this "freedom" and "prosperity" of the past twenty or so years should also be held responsible and accountable for the current economic situation.

If people appreciate and want to continue to enjoy 5 day work weeks, weekends off, benefits, pensions, eight hour work days, holidays, vacations, living wages, safe jobsites, and continued restrictions on child labor; thank and support the unions. Union members and organizers literally gave their lives for you to benefit from these labor laws, practices and policies that weren't in existence before unions.

Those in power have outsourced our jobs, shut down our worksites, stripped us of our wages, benefits, and pensions. They have caused the massive under- and unemployment in this country. They created the tax structures that further increased their wealth and reduced ours. They gave themselves and their buddies free money through cost-plus, no-bid contracts. They have cut corners on worker safety, while cutting costs to increase profits. In doing so, they have also created the largest environmental disaster in our country's history. They have bought public offices and votes, and influenced policies and laws to their benefit at the cost of our own current and future wealth and health, as well as a clean environment. They have exponentially increased their power and influence by getting our Supreme Court to create corporate persons. They use their wealth to run for and change term limits on public office in order to maintain their status quo. Again I ask, who benefits from all of this freedom and prosperity while our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, our wealth, our prosperity and our jobs have been sacked?

The elite want to keep the other 80% of us down. They want unions broken so we can go back to pre-union corporate practices. They want to keep us focused on blaming unions for the loss of jobs, wages, pensions, and benefits, rather than look at them as the true culprits with their outlandish wages, pensions, benefits, personal holdings, and corporate profits! The top 20% own 93% of our nation's wealth and use it to attack and create propaganda against some of the most powerful in the bottom 80% of the population. They want to get rid of collective bargaining and privatize public jobs to increase their wealth, power, influence, and control. They've already done a wonderful job with our economy! Read history, read other economic research, and read between the lines. Don't buy into their propaganda.

Instead, let's work together to vote, lobby, write, educate each other, influence public policy, demonstrate, and do everything legally in our power to stop this imbalance of freedom and prosperity and improve the lives of ALL Americans! We are in the fight of our lives, for ourselves and our children. The elite don't want us to work together, because unity creates power, even among the poor and disenfranchised. They are afraid of us becoming united, which is why they're trying to break the unions. Feedom and prosperity do not belong just to the elite few. Freedom and prosperity should not be won by climbing on the backs of 80% of the population. Freedom and prosperity should be shared. Freedom and prosperity rightfully belong to us all!

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