National Commentary

Old Fashioned Union Busting

bentonmug

All the right-wing, faux-populist agitation and ferment that has been generated since the election of President Obama is now converging on the favorite “wet dream” fantasy of Wall Street types, the dismantling of collective bargaining and an effective role for labor unions in American life.

All the right-wing, faux-populist agitation and ferment that has been generated since the election of President Obama is now converging on the favorite “wet dream” fantasy of Wall Street types, the dismantling of collective bargaining and an effective role for labor unions in American life.

The infamous Cato Institute, the Washington, D.C. arm of the Koch brothers and their uber-libertarian thirst for a return to “might makes right” laws of the jungle, placed a full-page ad in a D.C. newspaper Monday revealing its goal of rolling back every progressive gain for average Americans to the days before the New Deal.

Of course, they enjoy the support of major national media. The lead headline in Tuesday’s USA Today notes that in 41 states in the U.S., public employees make more on average than workers in the private sector.

What is the message in that? It is to pit two segments of the nation’s middle class against each other, while of course, the real cause of the nation’s economic malaise, the super-rich who continue to roll in dough, is ignored.

There are a number of assumptions that have been bought lock-stock-and-barrel by the makers of political discourse these days, including the media and the leaders of both parties at national, state and local levels.

One is the bullfeathers notion that the American people are concerned about the national deficit and debt. Absolute bunk! People care about jobs, education and opportunity for their children, and a modicum of economic security in their lives, going into old age.

Most don’t know national debt from Derek Jeter’s salary, and if they did, they’re more likely to adopt Oscar Wilde’s theorem, “Those who live within their means suffer from a lack of imagination.”

Another gross falsehood is the insistence that the deficit must be reduced at the expense of the middle class, by cutting funding for social safety net programs and beginning to chip away at Social Security and Medicare.

In fact, in December it was the alleged champions of the middle class, the Democrats, who contributed $700 billion to the federal deficit by granting an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the rich.

The fact that someone making $50 million a year, or in some cases obscenely higher than that, is taxed at the same rate as a hard-working stiff making $50,000 is a gross injustice, and yet we are led to believe by our leaders – regardless of party – that the appropriate response is to shrug our shoulders and say, “Maybe next year.”

The evil deficit was also caused by the execution of two massive military adventures by the U.S. earlier this decade. The operation in Afghanistan is now longer than any major military operation in the history of the U.S., and its primary objective is no closer to being reached that in was in the fall of 2001.

As for Iraq, this was not a war, it was an unprovoked military invasion and hostile occupation. It was about as necessary as personality improvement lessons for Betty White, but in all seriousness it cost tens of thousands of innocent lives, if not more, and the maiming of almost as many still.

A callous disregard for these consequences allows figures like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and W. to show their faces in public without fear of being spit upon, or arrested and tried for crimes against humanity.

But a lot of their cronies made an awful lot of money off these military escapades, and I remain convinced that was the primary motive for them.

Then came the great economic meltdown of 2008, with the savings and pensions of millions devastated, and state and local governments still facing horrific challenges to make good on pension obligations that went sour in that market.

Again, the Bush administration went farther than any in U.S. history to deregulate the financial services industry, eliminating virtually all limits on leveraging and creating a house of cards ripe for kicking over. Yet no leader of a Wall Street firm involved in this has paid the price for this enormous crime, and all are back at figuring out how to get back to the “good old days” as fast as possible.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com

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