Walter Rhett

Keep Count of My Tossings

In Business, Living, National Affairs on November 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

54th National Reunion of the African Jubilee, 1916. Library of Congress

54th National Reunion of the African Jubilee, 1916. Library of Congress

   Bob Hubert’s column today (http://nyti.ms/9AaOag) represents one of the most important wake up calls ever published by an American news organization that doesn’t involve death or crimes. But the damage described here is much more insidious. On the eve of the American elections, the in-depth researched work of two academics has more importance than the Austrian tome by Hayek being touted by Beck and the Tea Party, for the analysis presented here strikes at the history of actions taken at home. (“Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.”)

The book, Bob Hubert writes, “argues persuasively that the economic struggles of the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored the very rich.” 

In both large and small ways, I see around me the exploitation and collapse of the middle class. I have worked for South Carolina companies that use federal laws intended for seasonal farm workers to exempt amusement park workers from being paid overtime. The law also compells farm workers toIn both be exploited during planting and harvest by working exceptional long hours at regular wages. Why did Congress create the loophole and exception? Certainly, not to benefit workers or protect their wages.

More recently, think of the exemption given the pharmaceutical industry in the recent health care bill. It actually mandates protections for the industry against competition for the lowest cost. Add to the list the $10+ billion in contracts that BP still operates with the federal government (mainly with Defense); these contracts never seemed to be in question despite BP’s alternating moods of bluster, cover up, and belligerence. Further up the list would be the entire process that reviewed and assigned oil leases on and off shore. Evidence is abundant that it is not just Congress, but the regulators and bureaucrats in the Adminisration who are the receivers of corporate largess and the enablers and protectors of corporate wealth.

Mississippi Cotton field Workers, 1937.
Mississippi Cotton field Workers, 1937.
Coporate wealth has become a fire wall for the spiraling up of executive compensation. The justification is that their skills and experience require hefty bonuses. (Others say the government should stay out of the issues of personal compensation.) This argument crumbles when measured against performance; yet with counter intuitive chutzpah, poor performance is used to justify paying even higher salaries, since these skill sets are even more crucial in bad times!

The Pentagon is a known and widely accepted gateway to astronomical wealth at a scale that flies above common perception. In the same way, we can’t feel the world turning, most of us can’t fathom the vast sums of money flying out of the budget in the name of defense.

Sadly, much of this enrichment is done in the name of working class Americans. When deep water drilling was suspended, the faces of affected families and workers reinforced the political assault politicians led to overturn the temporary ban. But who had more at stake? The faces of wealthy companies hid behind the coat tails of those they put at risk. 

A comment from the New York Times noted: 
Job training is one example. Corporations used to hire people with a general education and strong work ethic and provide employees with training to move from one assignment to another. Now they search the world for workers with extremely specialized skill sets and lay them off as soon as those skills are no longer needed. The cost of job training and laid off workers is thrown onto the government.
       Health care is another. In order to avoid possible increases in premiums, corporations have engaged in patient dumping by laying off older workers and have acted as cherrypicking agents for the insurers. Again, the government has failed to institute quotas on the hiring of older workers or start Medicare earlier so that employers could pay lower rates for those workers. And so the 99ers descend into homelessness, caught between the corporations who are trying to throw their livelihood on the government and the government that has fallen prey to the notion that tough love is love and that safety nets are immoral.”
 
The election today already shows, that after the voting, not much will change. The tea party candidates, if elected, will be co-opted. Corporations who becry the yoke of government will continue to yoke the government by shifting expenses and costs for everything from training to health care to public platforms. Power and money attract synophants. Those who seek office will have already proven they can ignore truth, facts, and progress to serve their own interests and ambitions. It’s a simple step to serve and pander for interests of wealth and power even greater than their own.
Former model; American Indian, Norweigan-Scotch 21 year old female drill press operator, 1942. Library of Congress. 
Former model; American Indian, Norweigan-Scotch 21 year old female drill press operator, 1942. Library of Congress.
Thanks for reading! /wr {^_^} Please, stir the Perlo, add a comment.   
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