Category: Labor Issues

Libertarian-ism and the Corporate State

George S LedyardThere are two kinds of Libertarians on the political scene today; the actual members of the Libertarian Party and the members of the Republican Party with strong Libertarian views.
The Libertarian Party folks are where you find the true believers, the ones who are radically anti-government and pro individual freedoms. The one thing that you can say about these folks is that they are consistent in their application of these principles. They are fine with just about any behavior as long as it’s in the privacy of your own home between consenting adults. You don’t get the socially conservative tendency to legislate morality with these guys. But the party is also where you find the true nut cases, the ones who are so Libertarian that they are pretty much anarchists. At the Libertarian Convention in 2016 one candidate actually suggested that drivers licenses were an imposition by the government on our personal liberty. It’s pretty clear that the official Libertarians are not where you look for people to govern your country.
Most people with Libertarian leanings are to be found in the Republican Party. And they are far less concerned with being consistent. They favor small government and maximum personal freedom, or so they say, but are often the first in line to legislate morality that fits with Christian fundamentalist values, which hold a lot of sway in the GOP. Really, they mostly skip the personal freedom aspect and focus on the property rights side of things.
People shouldn’t be told what to do with their property by some central government. In fact Federal government ownership and management of public lands is suspect. Corporations are people, so all the rights of the individual are extended to the corporations and a overwhelming trait of the philosophy held by these people is an almost religious faith in the market place as the most efficient force in managing an economy.
These folks are the Über Capitalists. The current Republican crusader for Capitalism sees his personal mission as undoing virtually every piece of regulatory legislation passed since the New Deal and dismantling the Federal regulatory structures that performed this oversight.
These people have waited for years and years for the Holy Grail of a Republican Congress and Presidency full of truly radical right wing conservatives. With Donald Trump, they may not have found the guy who will pursue the radical social conservative agenda he seemed to promise in his campaign, but they definitely have a champion of the billionaire corporate class willing to destroy virtually all of the protections offered by our government against corporate malfeasance.

Donald Trump has asked Corporate representatives to make their recommendations as to what regulatory legislation they would like to see undone. This is asking the fox to guard the hen house. This is giving a group of folks whose sole interest is in delivering short term profits to their share holders free rein to pollute, to discriminate, to have unsafe working conditions, and so on.
If you look at the America proposed by Republican libertarian / Tea Party advocates, it is an America in which business is free to pursue its own course as dictated by the market place. The problem with all of this is that we have already been here before. From an historic point of view there is absolutely zero evidence that a corporation will ever choose to forego possible financial gain when it conflicts with maximizing profits.

Smog
LA smog in the 70s

When business did have pretty much free rein we had our nations rivers full of undrinkable carcinogenic waters. In the most famous case, the Passaic River in New Jersey actually caught fire. The air on our major urban areas was toxic and in the worst cities, like Los Angeles, toxic smog clouds hovered over the city, virtually obscuring the city from the view in the mountains. Our national bird, the bald eagle, was on the edge of extinction dues to the use of the pesticide DDT, lung cancer due to smoking killed tens of thousands of Americans every single year, and so on.
Child LaborThe fact is that when our US government was run on a more libertarian model we had unsafe air, unsafe water, unsafe food, unsafe working conditions, child labor, no social safety net, rampant sexual harassment, housing discrimination, racial discrimination,  massive economic fluctuation due to unrelated speculation in the stock market and so on. The economy would crash and serious economic depressions happened with some regularity.
This is the world of the US in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We had it already and we chose to change it. Now, people with absolutely no historical perspective, who derive their political philosophy from the works of Ayn Rand, are ready to take our country backwards in time to a world that will look more like Charles Dickens than anything we’ve see for 150 years.

asbestos is toxic
Removing asbestos from a home

The idea that the market place and unrestrained capitalism with voluntary self regulation by the corporations would do anything but open us up to the predations of corporate pirates is laughable. These are the same people who for decades denied that asbestos was terribly dangerous and was killing people. They sponsored studies that faked research and they lied through their teeth in order to preserve their profits.
These are the same people who for decades knew, from their own research, that tobacco caused cancer but fought all attempts to acknowledge that fact in court while simultaneously working to develop a product that was even more addictive than it was naturally.

Unsafe at any speed
Ralph Nader exposes the auto industry and the Corvair

These are the same people who produced an automobile that they knew was unsafe but chose to not correct the problem because it was cheaper to settle the law suits than it was to correct the problem.
It is simply an observable fact that every single instance of attempts to institute clean water standards, clean air standards, work place safety standards, equal rights, the list goes on and on, was resisted tooth and nail by the industries concerned. It’s history. You can read it and verify it.

The fact is that the only thing that stands between our citizenry and total corporate control of our nation like something out of a science fiction novel, is the Federal Government. No other entity in our society has the power to stand up to the power of the corporations derived from the vast wealth concentrated under their control. That’s why the wealthy and the corporations spend so much money trying to subvert it.  Every single positive step this nation has taken on the environment, worker’s rights and safety, auto safety, child labor, every single instance was IMPOSED on unwilling industry by the government.

desegregation of the schools
Women resisting school desegregation

This is also true on the equal rights front. Without the power of the Federal Government and the forcible imposition of civil rights legislation on the Southern States, we would still have segregation. Without the Fair Housing Act we would still have redlining and rampant discrimination in all areas of real estate.
LGBT rights, Women’s rights, the rights of the disabled, none were voluntarily enacted by most of the country. Supreme Court decisions backed by the enforcement power of the Federal Government were what forced the nation to start living up to its stated values. It was not voluntary. People did not voluntarily decide to act better, As society began to evolve, it needed to reach a tipping point at which it was ready to change. But it was the government that made that change happen in the larger society. It has been both the mechanism for making positive change happen and the guardian of those changes once they did.
So, we are now looking at the dismantlement of the only agency in our society that effectively stands up for our rights, for our environment etc. The right has hijacked the Supreme Court and they wish to cripple enforcement. Donald Trump’s invitation to private industry to suggest what legislation it wishes to repeal is just the start. It’s just one step away from total corporate control of our nation. The wall that has protected us from the self serving, profit before the public good, predations of the industrial pirates is slated for demolition. We must do what we can to ensure that this effort does not succeed.
From the New York Times EPA is major Target

Deomocrats and the “Forgotten” Heartland

George S LedyardMuch of the conventional wisdom since the disastrous electoral loss in Nov 2016 is that the Democratic Party lost because it had become too focused on identity politics and the educated liberal urban bastions on the two coasts. Bernie Sanders has maintained that a lack of an economic agenda that clearly benefits the working and middle classes was what turned voters away from the Democrats.
But a recent article in Vox provides a very different take on this issue. It points out that populism is on the rise all over the world in democracies which have far more socialized economic systems than what we have.

This had occurred to me a while ago. I had been trying to envision what possible Democratic / Progressive platform would have brought any significant number of Donald Trump’s supporters to our fold. My answer was, there isn’t one.
diversityThe whole basis of the Democratic / Progressive liberal agenda is diversity. It is about championing the rights of minorities and vulnerable populations. It is about LGBT rights, It is about a woman’s right to choose.  It is fundamentally about ensuring that all Americans have a level playing field when it comes to economic opportunity.
Of course, as Bernie Sanders has so aptly demonstrated, liberals have fallen far short of achieving this level playing field. But the Vox article is fairly convincing in maintaining that this wasn’t actually the reason we lost the election.
The fact is that I cannot envision what agenda would both preserve the fundamental focus on civil rights, minority rights, women’s rights, maintaining the social safety net, and be based on the philosophy of mixed public / private management of the country’s economy. It is fundamental to Liberal and Progressive philosophy that the government has a crucial role in managing those things which we determine to be “public goods” on behalf on the American people.
These include clean air, clean water, the environment in general, our rivers, the ocean, endangered species, fish runs, and the social safety net (sometimes called the welfare system). Health care has, since its inception, been a mixed bag. The government has policies which heavily “regulate” the industry, and via medicare, medicaid, and the veteran’s administration covers some financing, but the majority of our system is private. It is an “employer based” system and insurance is provided by private insurers.
Trump SupportersSo, what do we see on the right? It certainly is not a monolithic group. The GOP base is made up of a disparate groups and philosophies. But one unifying element is an almost visceral dislike of the Federal Government. The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, which has hijacked the Party’s agenda, wants to see smaller government, less regulation, a strong focus on property rights (as opposed to the public good), and far less Federal civil rights interference in state and local matters.
It is impossible to separate our current “populism” from “nativism”. The core demographic supporting Donald Trump and the farther right politicians is non-college educated whites. And they are Christians. This group is adamantly opposed to immigration. It wants to see deportation of undocumented residents. It wants to see a Wall built on the Mexican border. It wants to see an almost total ban on immigration from Islamic countries.
This group has gradually been influenced over a period of decades to become an anti-diversity, increasingly white supremacist group. They are convinced that diversity is a war against our Eurocentric values and heritage. They are xenophobic and more isolationist than we have seen for many years.

The Alt Right
The Alt Right Movement

My point here is that these people are rabidly opposed on a very fundamental level to almost EVERYTHING we liberals and progressives stand for. They do not believe that the government should have much of a role in anything beyond defense and law enforcement. They believe that the social safety net is a giveaway of public money to undeserving minority moochers. They are made uncomfortable by cultural values different than their own, especially when they are introduced into their previously homogeneous communities.
So, I would ask, would an vehemently anti-abortion person be persuaded by an economic program designed to benefit their demographic to vote for a Party that is firmly committed to “choice”? I would say nothing would do that.

I would ask what would persuade a voter who hates the Federal Government, is convinced that all politicians are corrupt, and feels that just about everything the government does that he sees is bad, to vote for a candidate that believes in a single payer, national health system administered by the government? I would say nothing.
Black Lives MatterI would ask what would persuade a voter who is fundamentally frightened by minorities and immigrants, who wishes to see the clock turned back to when white exceptionalism was the rule in our country and minorities just had to go along, to vote for a candidate from a party that is fundamentally associated with equal opportunity and rights for all… that has made “inclusion” the basis of its philosophy? I would say nothing.
I think it is time to understand that the country is polarized between extremes that really are not going to be reconciled. One side is not going to be persuaded to join the other side. This is a conflict that is going to have winners and losers. The losers will not be happy. And nothing we can do as liberals and progressives will change that fact.
Diversity PictureSo, no, the Democratic Party does not have to abandon its focus on diversity and identity politics. What it needs to do is incorporate a more progressive agenda into a plan that targets it liberal / progressive base. It isn’t about winning over the Tea Party folks in the heartland, or the uneducated workers on the rust belt. It is about finally coming up with a program that actually does improve the lot of the folks that have been Democratic supporters all along.

ACLU Civil Rights

Let’s make it clear to our minority populations that we have a real commitment to ending the war on drugs, shifting decriminalization to support via education, rehabilitation, mental health services, business development in the urban centers, etc. Let’s have a comprehensive plan to provide economic incentives and create educational / vocational alternatives for our workers who will be increasingly replaced by the robotics revolution.
To take back the country we need to motivate the folks that have traditionally been our base of supporters, not try to win over a group of folks that isn’t going to be won over no matter what we do. Instead, we need to maintain the focus we have had but actually start to deliver the goods. It was disinterest in our base this election that gave us Donald Trump, not a huge mandate.
Check out the article on Vox
No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism

“Merit Based Immigration” Ignores the Needs of Regular Americans

George S LedyardMerit based immigration” is a disguised “class-ist” system. Right now the US is allowing highly skilled workers to come from overseas and take positions in American companies. We benefit from their expertise and that seems like a good thing.

But the fact is that we need to bring in high level expertise from overseas because our own schools are not turning out sufficient numbers of skilled workers to fill the openings we have. Importation of foreign expertise removes market pressures to fix our education system. If we didn’t allow H1B workers to satisfy the demand for skilled workers, our corporations would be pressuring Federal and State government to fix our educational system to produce the educated work force they require.

 H1B visas, merit based immigration
We have a massive income divide in the US and a middle class that is under pressure. Current debates about jobs, bringing manufacturing back to the US, etc largely ignore that robotics / automation is a revolution on the scale of our industrial revolution. It will not be too long before most of the jobs performed at the low income level of the economy will be performed by machines. Even now, the jobs being created via economic growth are jobs that require higher education or at the very least, extensive vocational training.

Who are the H1B Visa recipients? More often than not, these people represent the elite of the countries from which they come. They come from the top strata of society that could afford to send their children to the very best lite schools. They can then come to the United States and gain valuable work experience. Some choose to stay here and other return home, taking that valuable experience with them and many end up in businesses that directly compete with our own companies.

But that isn’t the real issue. The real issue is that the American middle class has been in decline for decades. It is increasingly difficult for the average American worker to find jobs that actually pay enough to maintain that middle class status. The opportunities for movement up the economic ladder for most of our middle class folks is decreasing all the time.
We have a country in which the average citizen reads at around an 8th grade level. These people simply do not have the education or the skills needed to fill the new economy jobs which are opening up. Even if Donald Trump succeeds in bringing back manufacturing to the US, these people will not be getting those jobs that return.
A merit based immigration program allows American business to get the expertise it needs without the country making the investment in its own citizens required to meet these corporate requirements. It is a system in which we let someone else shoulder the burden of creating an educational system that produces these highly trained people and then we bring them in and put them to work. All the while, our own citizens are struggling. We are not investing in getting them ready for the jobs of the future.
H1B, merit based immigrationWe have allowed an income divide to develop over time that simply leaves most Americans behind. A huge percentage of our citizens are underemployed, which means that they are working very hard at one, often two jobs, but are still barely able to survive. This income divide exists all over the world. Now the children of the economic elite of one country can come to the US and be a part of the economic elite of our country while no effort is made to better the lot of the folks already here who exist at the bottom.
So, while I am at pains to say that I am not at all anti-immigrant, the so-called “merit based” immigration system obviates the need to do something about our school system’s failure to produce enough skilled workers to ensure decent wage paying jobs for our own citizens. The jobs may be there but our own people aren’t prepared for them. It produces an upper middle class of technical elites that actually makes upward mobility for the rest of our citizens more difficult.

My Reply to the Working Class Guy on Facebook

George S LedyardA recent thread on Facebook was Trolled by a Tea Party Trump supporter who posted,
“THE LIBERALS ARE AFRAID OF TRUMP BECAUSE THE PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER NOW”
This is my reply…
[Name}… you clearly are not terribly bright. When you say Liberals are scared because “the people” have power now, what the hell do you mean? Did Liberals become a new species at some time I didn’t notice? We are just as much “the People” as the rest of you. My family has been here since well before the Revolution so you can’t pull that more American than I am BS.

Anyway, I suspect you mean the little guy, the working class stuff, the ones who do the blue collar work in our country. If that is what you mean by “the People” then you would be dead wrong. If you said that they were responsible for electing those in power now, you would be reasonably accurate.

But no, those “people” are not in power. They have in fact given power to a bunch of super elites who are in the top tenth of 1% in terms of wealth and whose agenda is almost totally devoted to assisting big corporate interests in making more profit.

You are foolish to think that this group of billionaires, CEOs and other top corporate types give a shit about the “little man” except when they need your vote. Now that they are in power, you can watch as your country is sold off to corporate interests while the protections you have had as a working man (all of which were instituted by Liberals I will point out) will be steadily eroded.
You are not smart enough to understand what is going on and by the time you have figured it out, you will not be able to do anything about it. Trump will keep you happy with his anti-immigrant policies and his anti-Muslim travel bans. You will be cheering his wall as it gets built, all the while these folks will be picking your pocket.

You will see a massive increase in the national debt. That money will go to the moneyed elites who own the companies that benefit from Federal spending. Since Trump’s tax cuts will largely benefit the wealthiest Americans. it will be the core middle class citizens who will be called on dis-proportionally  to repay this debt.

The Iraq War (and Afghanistan) was the largest redistribution of wealth since the Depression. The methodology was the same. Record deficit spending coupled with tax decreases mostly for the wealthy. Trump’s agenda is clear. He will cut the Government programs which benefit the poor and working class folks. He will expand the programs, like the huge defense budget, the national security apparatus, etc The military / industrial / prison complex will be the recipients of your tax dollars which will, in the end became profits for the wealthy stock holders.

I am willing to bet that you aren’t a big share holder in Lockheed Martin… In fact, if you are like almost all of the citizens you are referring to as “the people”, you aren’t share holders in much of anything. That’s true of most of us, in fact. All that Federal money will go to Trump and his corporate cronies.

There’s a good chance Trump will start some conflict or other and you or your kids will be called on to fight. Trump’s kids and grand kids will stay at home learning to manage the vast wealth of the Trump holdings. At the end of the process, they will be richer and you will not. Not one iota better off than you have been and likely worse.

But you folks aren’t smart enough to remotely understand how you are being bamboozled, It is as Lyndon Johnson said,
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Just add Muslim, Mexican. Liberal or some such for colored man and you have an apt description of yourself and your so-called “People”. Getting the people at the bottom to vote against their own economic self interest is a much perfected art form on the part of the elites and you are the classic victim.

Outrage Fatigue – We Can Handle It

George S LedyardA great article by Ariana Huffington on outrage fatigue titled How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World

Really worth reading and its points are quite valid. But it did get me thinking about the issue of outrage fatigue. I asked myself, aren’t we stronger than that?

This is a war. It is a political war, but it is also a culture war. As much as we find Trump repulsive, it is a fact that the GOP as a political party is backing him 100%. We cannot separate Trump from the Tea Party hi-jacked GOP itself. Every time they vote to support a Trump nominee, every time they overlook the conflicts of interest, every time they allow him to not release his tax returns, when they overlook the outrageous way he is conducting what could only generously be described as foreign policy. they are “enablers”. They must take equal responsibility for this atrocious man.
But we are also forced to admit that not a one of these people would be in office… not the President, not the Senators and Congressmen, none of them, without having been voted into office. It is simply the case that a really significant section of the American public has a very different vision of America that is in many ways diametrically opposed to the Liberal / Progressive vision. In other words, this is a fight that has existed since the start of our country and continues to this day.  It isn’t going away. It will still be going on long after Donald Trump is disgraced and leaves office.
Organized LaborSo, I find myself thinking about outrage fatigue and the issue of “staying power”. I think about the battle that the Labor Unions fought for decade upon decade in the face of black balling, assassination, strike breaking, state sanctioned violence… Most of us are currently facing nothing like that.
The women warriors who fought for suffrage faced social ridicule, isolation, arrest and imprisonment had to sustain that effort for years and years. For many it was a life long battle. Most of us are not even close to putting ourselves on the line to that extent.
Women's rights, suffragettesThe Civil Rights Movement literally lasted generations. It accelerated after WWII and seemed to peak in the 1960s with the successful fight to end segregation. The movement activists faced beatings, even death at the hands of the reactionaries. People were lynched, shot, simply disappeared. Marchers were fire hosed, had the dogs turned on them, were attacked by the white crowds. This happened over and over for years. Are we as Liberal / Progressive citizens facing anything like that … Yet?
What I am saying here is that if we are in this for the long run, it is certainly true that we need to pave ourselves. We also need to perform concrete actions along with being outraged to give that energy an outlet. All true. But at the same time, when I look at our nation’s history of activism and resistance, at what a monumental effort it has taken to get where we are, the sacrifices made by the culture warriors who have fought the battle to make this country a better place for all, I think that holding onto to my outrage is a small price to pay.
Are we not strong enough to sit with our outrage every day? Are we REALLY allowing ourselves to be “fatigued” after a few months of the political wars? I think we should think about the strength required to sustain this battle until we can turn this country around. The folks who went before us faced far greater challenges. The folks out there at Standing Rock, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the Occupy movement folks, the environmental activists,  all the other fighters on the front lines are  really putting themselves out there for all of us. I think maybe the least we can do is maintain our outrage and not shy away from it.
If it is too much for some, I understand that. You do what you can. But I think that the vast majority of us are strong enough to hold that outrage, to wake up every day and feel it, to express it publicly, loud and strong. Because that is what is required to not allow what is happening to be “normalized”. I think this is how we honor the generations of labor leaders, women’s rights activists, civil rights fighters, and so on who have gone before us. We have to maintain and feed the outrage. It is the motive energy that feeds concrete action. It is required to get marchers on the streets, not just once but over and over.  It is what is required to get us writing our Congressional leaders, not just on one issue, but continuously until they can’t ignore us. It is what is required to produce record turnout at the mid-term elections rather than the dismal 50% of the Presidential election that is typical.
Seattle Women's marchSo, don’t do yourselves harm. Take care of yourselves. But if you can hold your outrage, if you can feed it, communicate it, keep it steady, then by all means do so. I think we can be tough enough to do that at least. The war is going to demand much more from some. A few will find themselves out in front for the rest of us. It has always been thus. But we can stay strong and outraged at a minimum, acting in the various ways that we each find for ourselves. Personally, I think my outrage is making me stronger. As my wife, who was a nation champion fencer used to say to herself when competing, “Be tired later.”

Our Recent History of Anti Immigrant Sentiment

George S LedyardI know we are all in shock about what is happening in our country at the moment and with good reason. But on another level, we shouldn’t be shocked. This is a failure of our educational system. Most of us never learned the history of how white America repeatedly used anti-immigration regulations and mass deportations to maintain a white supremacist vision of what the country should be.
Mexican repatriationJust looking at my parents generation, the 1930s, we can see an America which was unapologetic-ally racist. An unspecified number of residents of Mexican decent were arbitrarily rounded up in the late 20s and early 30s and “repatriated” to Mexico. A million or more were rounded up in a completely indiscriminate effort and estimates range as high as 60% of these people were US citizens. But it wasn’t just the 30s… in 1954 “Operation Wetback” did much the same thing, albeit on a slightly smaller scale… maybe half a million deported.
In the 1920s and 30s even Italians and other Southern Europeans were the target of an immigration policy that restricted their immigration to the US while favoring that of Northern Europeans. Efforts were made using the criminal justice system to deport as many as possible back to Italy.
America was virulently anti-Semitic in the 1930s. Jews were routinely denied membership in clubs and associations. The KKKs efforts at the same were actually more targeted at the Jews than Blacks since they didn’t feel that Blacks were any real threat. More than sixty years of terror had seen to that. But the Jews were threatening to white America. There had been a huge influx from central Europe and white folks were upset. So, legislation was enacted that strictly restricted Jewish immigration just at a time when Jews in the hundreds of thousands were trying to flee the rise of anti-Semitic Fascism across Europe and, in particular Germany.
Voyahe of the St LouisThe most famous instance was the VOYAGE OF THE ST. LOUIS in 1939. A ship full of Jews fleeing Germany after Kristallnacht (literally the “Night of Crystal” pogrom was turned away and denied entry to the US. Eventually, the ship was sent back to Germany where at least half of those refugees eventually were exterminated.
Anti Japanese racismAlmost nothing is taught in our schools about the anti Asian riots and roundups of the late 1800s and early 1900s which took place in the Pacific NW and the West Coast but most students have at least heard of the mass round up of our Japanese American citizens, the suspension of the civil rights, and the wholesale theft of their property when they were sent to what we would now call “concentration” camps.
What we are seeing today is just a resurgence of what has been a part of America since its inception. The success of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s lulled us into a false feeling of security. Our successes in moving forward on women’s rights, minority and LGBT rights, deceived many of us into thinking that bigotry and racism was largely a piece of history. You even had Republican politicians seriously maintaining that we were in a post-racial America.
Well, the ridiculousness of that belief has been glaringly obvious in this past election. reactionary, “nativist” sentiment is alive and well in the US, and through a quirk of historical circumstance, has manged to gain control of our government. There is almost no difference between the position of the Jews fleeing Fascism in the 30s and the refugees fleeing the war torn middle east today. Syrian refugees And one again, our country is taking the hard-hearted approach of excluding them from entry. They can return home and be killed, or they can stay in camps in which the conditions are terrible, we don’t care. Just as long as they don’t move here.
The focus on illegal immigration from South of the border is just a continuation of social and racial bias that has always been there and which has periodically exploded into anti-Hispanic round ups and deportations. Only the Wall as a response seems to be a truly new approach. Keeping them out is now a priority on which we are willing to spend many  billions of dollars at a time when we do not seem to have enough money for basic health care or education

The Wall - Donald Trump
Like the Statue of Liberty, our Wall will make a permanent statement for the world to see.

Perhaps of more people were aware of our history of racism, bigotry, roundups of immigrants, and ethnic cleansing, people might have spotted just how dangerous Donald Trump and company actually are. Perhaps we would not have seen such a blase attitude toward this last election with the lowest voter turnout since 1920. But it is what it is and now we have no choice but to fight  a rear guard action while we try to regroup.

Trump and the Working Class

George S LedyardNote to Donald Trump’s Working Class Base:
On the subject of bringing jobs back to America. Working class voters, that core of Trump support, need to understand the following.
If a factory returns to the US, it will employ around a quarter of the folks it did when it left. Robotics will be doing the work you used to do.  It’s not those brown people you are so worried about that are taking your jobs. The jobs that will be available will require more education and training than what you have. These jobs are not likely to be yours.

Radically dismantling the Federal Government will actually destroy jobs. The government is just another huge employer from the standpoint of the economy. It’s like a company we all own and at the same time consume its product. Everywhere there is substantial Federal employment, it is an economic engine helping to drive the local economy.
960
So, when we decide we hate our government, and don’t wish to have the many programs which help our citizens any more (most of you don’t even know what the programs are or how they help you) all those workers… many tens of thousands will lost their jobs. Your community loses their tax support. Your businesses lose their patronage. Any community in which there are Federal employees will experience an economic downturn.

And then what happens? All those better educated workers, now unemployed. stream into the job market. Guess who will be better qualified to get those few manufacturing jobs that Trump will be bringing back? Yes, you guessed it, those former government workers with management and administrative experience and those degrees which, oh, you don’t have.
So, all of this will create a downward pressure on wages,  increased competition for the better paying jobs leaving all of you fighting for those jobs at the bottom which don’t pay enough to live in. And I’ll bet your GOP representatives have convinced you that the minimum wage is bad… just in time for you to not receive it. Nice job shooting yourselves in the foot.

But don’t worry, your future employers at whatever jobs you do manage to find will be unencumbered by government regulations that previously prevented them from totally screwing you, that mandated that they put some attention on worker safety, that they not create a toxic morass in the community in which you and your family live.

No, you will be happy to know that, while you are getting by on lower wages, and have far fewer rights as an employee, and are watching your kids get sick from the plant pollution from your workplace, your employers will be free to accumulate even more of the nations wealth than they previously had ( which was already at record levels). Thanks to you, our much revered tradition of putting the interests of the elites, before those of our workers will continue, not only unabated, but radically enhanced. Nice job.

“Political Correctness: how the left invented phantom victimization.”

George S Ledyard“Political Correctness: how the left invented phantom victimization.”

Phantom victimization? Seriously? It’s impossible to understand how any citizen of this Republic could POSSIBLY think that anyone needed to invent the concept of “victimization”, to pretend that there are no groups who have been systematically “victimized”.

Let’s try to sum up where we are at with the left and the right. In a nutshell, the left has decided to represent the victims, the marginalized, the minority members of our society. They have fought for civil rights, they have opposed exploitation and discrimination. Historically, they have stood on the side of Labor, fighting for better wages,. conditions, etc.
Our nation has historically been and continues to be dominated by the tensions between our white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant, majority and our various minorities. Since the great social upheaval of the 1960s we have seen an almost continuous movement forward in political organizing, and a successfully fight for equal rights.
What we have now with the political right is the backlash. In fact, the Republican Party is virtually the party of backlash. One of the ways that the right resists is by rewriting history. This is easily done in a country in which few study history. The focus of this effort is to create a view of the country in which there are no victims. There might have been at some point in the past, but that was all long ago and now it’s all ok.

slavery and economic growthThere has been a concerted effort to white wash slavery. It really wasn’t so bad. Most slave owners treated their slaves well, and blah, blah, blah. There has been complete silence on the subject of our record rate of incarceration, which dis-proportionally effects minorities. And any mention of multi generational poverty in our minority populations is made to appear as lack of ability, lack of drive, dependence on welfare and so on. Black Lives Matters, a group fighting a multi generational problem of law enforcement violence against minority communities is depicted as a anti-law enforcement terrorist organization. It’s simply one big stream of denial that there is an issue to be addressed.

Income Inequality - class warAt the same time, on the right you will have absolutely no mention of multi generational wealth and power. It is a fact that the upper middle class and upper class perpetuate themselves. They have the means to weather economic downturns, they can afford to have their children receive the finest education money can buy. While it is true that most people work hard to get by, people from these upper classes, who are, by the way, mostly white, do not start at the same starting point that the rest of the citizenry do. But you will NEVER hear a word about that from the right. Any mention of the lack of an even playing filed or the notion that wealth and power do perpetuate themselves engenders screams of class warfare and those doing this mentioning are attacked as pursuing the politics of division… a big no, no.
Sweatshops
The new narrative has worked to discredit Labor Unions. We no longer need them, they cost jobs, etc. The movement of jobs to the non-Union South has led to an economic boom for corporations in the Sun belt while these same states require more Federal payments via the safety net to keep the working poor from starving. They get less pay, worse conditions, less protections. Essentially, the destruction of the Unions has moved the burden of supporting the work force from the employer to the tax payer. The employees of a company like WalMart require billions of dollars of public assistance in order to maintain even a minimal standard of living.

Oligarchs - wealth inequalityYet the narrative of the right has been to say that focusing on the worker, his rights, his conditions, his wages, hurts business and costs jobs. The new narrative is a variation of the trickle down theory. What is good for the corporation, what benefits management and the stock holders is what creates jobs and prosperity for the worker.

This is a fiction. What is happening is that the worker is receiving proportionally less of the total income from our businesses. Non-Union wages are down yet top ,management salaries and benefits are at record levels. They are at record levels when compared to businesses world wide. A CEO of an American corporation can be making 400 times the wage relieved by the worker in the factory. This divide is greater than in any country in the world by magnitudes.
But the focus in the right is devoted entirely to distracting the working man from understanding this. Unionization is resisted at all costs because Labor organizers will be the first to demonstrate to the workers where the inequities lie.
The tried and true strategy of playing the different parties off against each other continues unabated. The right has the working man focused on all those immigrants and illegals, all those foreigners taking their jobs. All to distract them from the fact that the most wealthy are getting steadily wealthier. That isn’t something the right wishes the worker to focus on.
So, when the left talks about marginalized groups, it is pursuing the bugaboo of identity politics. But when the right talks about the problem with Muslims, the undocumented workers, the war against Christmas, even the war against men, or the war against white people… that isn’t identity politicos, that’s fighting for traditional values.

Steve Bannon - Alt RightAnd in the non-economic arenas like women’s rights, LGBT rights, special needs, etc the right wing strategy is once again to deny that there even is a problem. No new legislation is needed to protect women against sexual assault, no new laws are required to prevent hate crimes against gays. All of this is already covered by our existing legal structures. Of course this ignores the fact that if the existing structures were working, we wouldn’t have endemic rates of sexual assault, we wouldn’t behaving a stream of hate crimes against LGBTQ people.

All of this is about a concerted propaganda effort to deny the experience of our marginalized communities. When people describe the many ways they are made to feel excluded, undervalued, discriminated against, and even assaulted, the narrative of the right is to deny the validity of their experience. Complaining about being victimized is just an excuse not to knuckle down and work as hard as the rest of us (is being the folks who are already doing just fine than you).

Attempts to afford legal protection to our marginalized groups are attacked. The new code word which the right uses to oppose equal rights for our various minorities is to describe them not as “equal rights” but as “special rights”. These people are just asking to not be discriminated against, to receive the same treatment that everyone else gets. They are asking for “special” treatment. They are asking for something the rest of us don’t get. It is an insidious form of double speak, a cynical attempt to invalidate the daily experience of marginalized populations within our country.
alt right and white victimizationThe Liberal Left may have been guilty of focusing more on applying band aids to the results of our economic inequality rather than finding solutions, but they at least deal in the reality zone with our problems. The right consistently denies that the issues are even issues and then turns around and portrays the very people who are the most entitled in our society as the true victims. That is what backlash is all about and that is what the right currently represents.

Big Union Leaders Betray Sanders and Workers | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Bernie Sanders and Union Support

Published onFriday, April 08, 2016 by Common Dreams

Big Union Leaders Betray Sanders and Workers by Ralph Nader

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders waves as he marches with supporters in the Labor Day parade. (Photo: AP/Jim Cole) Around a conference table inside the large Washington headquarters of the AFL-CIO, a furious exchange occurred between labor union presidents. It was late February and up for decision by the Executive Council was whether the country’s principal labor federation was going to make a primary season endorsement of Hillary Clinton as favored by the leaders of the largest unions.

According to insiders, tempers flared when smaller unions challenged the Hillary-endorsing big unions such as AFSCME (public employees), the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Service Employees (SEIU) and the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). These large unions came out for Clinton in late 2015 and early 2016 before they sensed the growing rank and file workers’ preference for the lifetime advocate for workers and union backer, Bernie Sanders.
“Time is of the essence. When will workers again have such a scandal-free, consistent labor champion as Bernie Sanders seriously going for the Presidency inside the Democratic Party?”
Listening to the nurses union head speak out for Sanders’ strong pro-labor history, Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, interrupted her, exclaiming: “I will not allow you to do a commercial for Sanders.” She retorted, “You mean for the only candidate who has a 100% labor record?” A union leader of postal workers charged the unions backing Hillary as being “completely out of touch with their workers.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka then cut off their microphones.

All over the country, the observation by the postal workers’ leader rings true. Even as Lee Saunders read the names of the Democratic presidential contenders at a large Washington state AFSCME membership meeting last October, “only Sanders’ name brought loud, sustained applause,” according to Bloomberg News. Few union leaders allow a worker referendum to make the endorsement decisions. The 700,000-member Communications Workers of America (CWA) does, and the result was a “decisive endorsement of Sanders,” reported Rafael Navar, the union’s political director.

Whether it is the level of enthusiasm, campaigning to get out the vote or talking up their candidate’s record on such issues as minimum wage increases, abolition of public university and college tuition, full Medicare for all (single payer system) and credibility in standing up to Wall Street, Hillary’s votes and statements do not come close to respecting the working families of America compared to Bernie’s consistent 30-year record. Based entirely on her lawless record as a pro-war Senator (Iraq), as a war-making Secretary of State (Libya), and her $5,000-a-minute speeches before closed-door, big-business gatherings (in addition to millions in big-money campaign contributions), Clinton will continue to be the sponsor of War and Wall Street.

The volunteer Labor for Bernie grassroots drive is not just growing rapidly but cutting across all union categories and gaining support with non-union workers. There is a potentially massive pool of American workers supporting Senator Sanders as he wins primary after primary, leading up to the April 19th contest in New York – the adopted state base for the Clintons, who are backed by all their monied interests. This unaffiliated labor awakening bears watching, especially by the long-entrenched, affluent big union leaders.

First, Labor for Bernie is fomenting defections by local unions defying their Hillary-endorsing national organizations. So far, over 80 of these union locals have endorsed Bernie Sanders.

“The volunteer Labor for Bernie grassroots drive is not just growing rapidly but cutting across all union categories and gaining support with non-union workers.”

Typical of this exodus is Northern California Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, whose executive board voted 30 to 2 for Sanders, reflecting the views of most of its 28,000 members. Local 5’s Mike Henneberry said “For us it was not a very difficult decision. Compare an individual who’s been supporting workers since he was mayor of Burlington [Vermont] with someone who’s been on the Board of Walmart.”

The Service Employees Local 1984 (SEIU), New Hampshire’s largest public sector union, disagreed with its national union and came out for Sanders in November. The big union leaders don’t smell revolt yet, but they must be worried. If the Clintons continue to play dirty tricks, with the big unions, as was suspected in Iowa and Nevada against the Sanders campaign, the seeds of challenges within the ranks of these unions will be planted.

Should Hillary become president and come out for anti-worker trade treaties, return to her former coolness on a living wage and other labor issues and cater to Wall Street, the insurrection could congeal against the big unions who will have taken credit, of course, for her victory, without having delivered a mandate for a labor agenda.

It is the AFL-CIO’s practice of endorsing Democrats without demanding before and insisting after the election that candidates champion ‘card check’, revision of trade treaties, repeal of anti-union labor laws and stronger job safety regulation. The Democratic Party treats the mostly shrinking labor unions as having nowhere else to go. And most union leaders meekly oblige by their chronic submissiveness.

The man to watch is strategist and former labor union insider Larry Cohen. He was for many years the president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that has endorsed Sanders. He’s going all over the country helping the Sanders campaign, urging major labor unions, still undecided, like the Steel, Auto, Firefighters and Electrical Workers (IBEW) to come out for Bernie.

But Mr. Cohen is looking beyond the elections to take the energy from the Sanders campaign and politically mobilize tens of millions of non-unionized workers behind a new Congress furthering a new economy as if workers mattered.

Time is of the essence. When will workers again have such a scandal-free, consistent labor champion as Bernie Sanders seriously going for the Presidency inside the Democratic Party? Had Sanders had two more months without this big union opposition, his current momentum could have allowed him to overtake Clinton by now.

Facing a possible four or eight years of the corporatist and militarist Clinton, coupled with U.S. multinational corporations exporting whole industries, not to mention accelerating labor-replacing automation, the hurdles for Americans believing in democracy, justice and peace becomes far, far greater.

So the time for preventive civic and worker engagement with all electoral contests is now!

Source: Big Union Leaders Betray Sanders and Workers | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community