Monthly Archives: May 2010

WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? DO WE ACQUIESCE OR DOES UNION HAVE THE COURAGE TO LEAD THE REVIVAL OF THE MIDDLE CLASS?


                                                                                                                                      

     There were two eras that elevated the middle class.  The first was the period from 1700 to the mid-1800s.  This period was propelled by the transfer of land from the Indigenous Americans to the settlers, who got the land for practically nothing.  With cheap land as capital, regular citizens began to have an adequate standard of living.  They were literate and suitably  informed about politics and international affairs. 

    This lasted through the Civil War when land was becoming scarce and the industrial revolution drew workers to the cities in search of work.  By the late 1860s, big business grew and the middle class collapsed.  This was due in part because the early inheritors of companies like Cargill (agriculture)  of today gained control of the sale and the distribution of farm products.  The farmers fought back by creating farming rules (industry standards) known as the Grange movement.  This fraternal organization made it possible for families to join together for their common good.  So what are we waiting for?  

    The country was moving away from agriculture and towards  industrialization.  This augmented the farmers loss of power.  As the industry continued to grow, the wealthy obtained monopolies over new technology and the resources that was required to run the technologies, such as the railroads , steel and oil.  This allowed them to accumulate massive amounts of wealth.  This period became know as the Gilded Age or the Era of the Robber Baron because the wealth did not trickle down to the workers.

    Soon the twentieth century had arrived with the average income of working class Americans being less than $10,000 per year in todays dollars.  But the Americans still did not give up.  They fought back through Progressive and Populist movements, and gained important economic and political reforms.  So what are we waiting for?

    The first thing they did was  limit the size of corporations to limit their power.  This was the SHERMAN ANTITRUST ACT OF 1881.  This law is still in effect but the decision not to enforce it was made by Ronald Reagan.  Jimmy Carter was the last president to use it significantly when he broke up the AT&T monopoly.  So what are we waiting for?

    The second thing they did was to force the special interest out of politics by enacting legislation to prohibit corporations from “directly or indirectly” making contributions in federal elections.  On Jan. 26, THE TILMAN ACT OF 1907 (which is still on the books)  was signed into law by Pres. Roosevelt.   Other changes were made politically, such as changing to electing instead of appointing senators, and the woman’s suffrage (19th amendment ratified Aug. 18, 1920).  Still they struggled to bring together the developing union movement.  Once an aristocracy is in place, it is very hard to dislodge.   So what are we waiting for?

    The Depression was the catalyst that precipitated the second era of the middle class.   By 1929 after a number of massive tax cuts for the wealthy by successive Republican presidents, the division between the wealth of the investor class and the working class in the country was wider than it had ever been.  (It has again reached those dimensions).  The end result was the October 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.  Sound familiar?   So what are we waiting for?

    Herbert Hoover tried to continue on this path of destruction by running his re-election campaign idea of more tax cuts for the wealthy to stimulate the economy (Prosperity Is Just Around The Corner), but the public had had enough of him and the extremist Supreme Court that had recently voted down minimum wage and other protection laws for workers saying that they were unconstitutional.  So what are we waiting for?

    It took President Roosevelt to make sure that the citizens had money in their pockets by using the progressive taxation code, starting Social Security, passing fair labor laws, regulating businesses and vigorously enforcing the antitrust laws.  In 1935  he pushed through the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act) which protected workers right to form a union and in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act which set a minimum wage.  So what are we waiting for?

    During World War II, the President passed a progressive income tax which took up to 90% of the income after a person earned what would be more than $2 million in today’s dollars.  That rate remained in effect under FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson and Carter, and America’s debt was small and monies was in the hands of We The People who were most likely to spend it and keep the economy stimulated.  So what are we waiting for?

  FDR set the stage for a middle class with spending programs blended with unionization, antitrust laws and the most importantly the expansion of citizen participation in our democracy which happens when a middle class grows.  So what are we waiting for? 

     In a time of crisis, FDR instead of giving tax cuts to billionaires like Reagan and the Bushes, he went to the working class to stimulate the economy, like Obama.  The infrastructure projects were started giving workers a living wage which provided a direct stimulus to the economy and the work improved the commons.  Social Security made sure that all working and disabled citizens had something for retirement and he set up the FDIC to insure that the citizens money would be safe.  So what are we waiting for? 

    If we do nothing the results are clear:  corporations will determine our fate.  We can take a different path and fulfill the promise and vision of our founders.  The conservative view will not meet the needs of the majority.  it can only lead to aristocracy and feudalism as history has taught us.  So what are we waiting for?

    President Barack Obama ran on a campaign for change, but change cannot happen unless we change.  As you can see from history, the citizens need unions.  And as in the words of  Samuel Adams, it does not take a majority to prevail. But rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.”  So what are WE waiting for?  No really, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

GOV. PATERSON WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?


Not only does he  undermine the state workers with the exploitation of the temporary worker, he now boldly disrespect the state worker by giving his staff raises in the wake of furloughs for the state workers.

Who caused the states fiscal troubles?  It certainly was not the state workers, so why must all problems be solved off of the backs of the workers?  When is Gov. Paterson, the assembly and senate going to give up a days pay each week?  They certainly can afford it.  When is the Governor going to increase the taxes on the corporations in-order to increase revenue?  What he is telling the worker, the person who keeps things going,  is that only the lifestyle of the rich is important.  The lifestyle of the worker is insignificant. 

When does the nys public get a chance to sit down and negotiate with the Governor like the CEO’s of the corporations do. 

We have got to stand up for each other and take our democracy back.  Those who have the least are paying the most!  The decisions for the many are being made by the wealthiest few.  This is neoliberalism operating as a political system.

Well I say to Gov. Paterson, when they get finished using you as their pawn[coding frame] will you still be a part of the inner circle?  I doubt it.  

This profit over people syndrome has taken hold and we must let them know that democracy will prevail.

     WAKE UP EVERYBODY-  IT’S TIME FOR THINKING AHEAD!

Penny McQuaig

FYI: FREE PRESS SUMMIT TOMORROW


Tomorrow, May 11, 2010 is the Free Press Summit: Ideas To Action in Washington D. C. 

If you cannot attend you can listen:

http://www.freepress.net/summit

NET NEUTRALITY


I can remember that conversation of concern that FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps had with television journalist Bill Moyers.  He was very concerned over whether the internet would continue to be free.  That conversation took place in August 2007, and he was asked by Bill Moyers, what’s at stake? And his reply was “the vitality of our democratic dialogue”.

They have forgotten that the public owns the airwaves. It was and is the job of Congress and the FCC to protect the public interest and they failed.  We must flood the FCC with phone calls to ensure that Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner Clyburn, Commissioner Copps (who we know supports this), Commissioner McDowell and Commissioner Baker follows through with the proposal to increase regulation of ISPs into the same category as telephone companies by reclassification as Title II Service.  This would increase internet access nationwide and would also require equal treatment on all online traffic.  After the federal court decision last month that the FCC had overreached its authority in sanctioning Comcast who had blocked a peer-to-peer application, this is the new proposal by the FCC after public pressure to fight.

It is absolutely imperative that the internet is kept open.  As Commissioner Copps says, “Our future is going to ride on broadband. How we get a job is going to ride on broadband. How we take care of our health. How we educate ourselves about our responsibilities as citizens. This all depends upon being able to go where you want to go on that Internet, to run the applications that you want to run, to attach the devices, to know what’s going on. That’s what net neutrality is all about.”

SO FIGHT WE MUST!

This will not be done unless we concentrate our efforts and let the FCC know how serious we are.  Let your voices be heard.  MAKE THOSE PHONE CALLS NOW !  CALL 1-888-CALL-FCC(1-888-225-5322) and E-MAIL fccinfo@fcc.gov

Penny McQuaig

ANOTHER TAKE ON HEALTHCARE


In an article in FORTUNE on may 6, an update was given on how congress (Henry Waxman) proceeded with his inquiry into AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar and Deere.  See link to article.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/05/news/companies/dropping_benefits.fortune/index.htm?eref=aol 

In reading the article, I must say that it doesn’t surprise me as to how things were handled.  This is exactly why I stated in my post on March 30, 2010, that we must be vigilant.  We must also learn to read the message that is being sent to us.  What the new Fortune article is telling you is that all of the afore-mentioned companies and Fortune, is that they are seeing and speaking corporate lingo.  The language of business, and it awakens us to the fact that a corporation is amoral(neutral).  It can only speak in the language that creates and protects its monies.  It doesn’t recognize us or our needs until the light is shinning in its window.  Then, and only then, do we become  an issue to be entertained in the press. 

Such is the CORPORATION, this AMORAL ENTITY that we have allowed ourselves to become puppets in their play.  Our suffering has given way to despair.  You and I live in the places that the CEOs don’t see, don’t visit, don’t live.  Their neighbor doesn’t worry about how they will pay for their healthcare.  Their neighbor doesn’t worry about losing their home due to a catastrophic illness.  Nor will they have to see their neighbor in distress because they need a new job after retirement in-order to pay for health care and no one wants to hire someone 55 years old.  

Allowing these faceless entities called CORPORATIONS, to take hold and control our lives was our biggest mistake.  They have done nothing but cause decay, destroyed union and betrayed our exertion towards a more perfect union.  (see the constitution…http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/freedom/constitution/text.html)

As you see the Constitution tells us that this Republic is a Democracy, not a Capitalistic country.  Capitalism is the economic system, not the governing body.  We have acquiesced with Corporate America in its self-serving greed.  In its selfish, insensitive and ultimately malignant takeover of our country.  When we don’t take a stand, we become complicit in our own demise.  We now must stand to modify the healthcare bill and get that universal health care that we give to our congress, our senate and our wealthy CEOs.   They will never have to worry about paying for healthcare(and they make enough to pay for it), and we as workers and taxpayers are making sure they have no worry.  When they don’t have to worry, we shouldn’t have to worry either.  WE NEED TO STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE!!!

 

written by

          Penny McQuaig