Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We've Lost our Minds (or maybe just our Souls)

All I can say is that I can’t believe what’s going on in this country right now. We (okay, not all of us) seem to have lost our collective f%#king minds. As we bow down at the base of the golden calf and ignore the fact that it was Wall Street crooks that crashed our economy (and none have paid any price whatsoever for it), but now we want to “solve” our financial crisis by taking it out on teachers and street sweepers and janitors and “overpaid” public employees. I mean, sure, they all have private planes and vacation homes in St. Barts, so clearly they make too much money. And by God, they have actual pension plans and decent medical insurance packages, so we’ve got to make sure that we take that away from them. We don’t want them having something that we (whoever WE are) don’t have…

Listen, I understand that unions aren’t perfect, and that it is too difficult to fire bad employees in union shops, but guess what? The reason that some of you still take home a decent wage and some of you still have decent health benefits (even if you have to pay something for them) is because of the unions and the struggles of working people in the early part of the last century. That’s why you have Social Security and Medicare too, but heck, those programs are too expensive and need to be trimmed back too. We all pay too much in taxes that we’ll never see again, right? Well, just remember that if we didn’t have them, each of us would be shelling out to support our parents and grandparents in their old age instead of them living reasonably healthy, independent lives. And that would cost each of US a heck of a lot more than the taxes we pay out to keep the programs running.

Feel free to bow down and kiss the feet of the gazillionaires and keep cutting their taxes, if you think that’s what it’s all about to be a FREE American. But don’t be surprised when they kick you in the teeth, climb over your prostrate body, and swipe your wallet as they run off to devise next Ponzi scheme or cash in on a good business opportunity (probably in some down and out country where they can pay workers pennies a day). The rich aren’t better or smarter than the rest of us, although many of them have absorbed the management and get rich tips of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. In other words, they know that there’s a war going on and they finally see the opportunity to roll back the 20th Century that was just a glimmer in Saint Ronnie’s eyes 30 years ago.

Unions, even in their withered state in this country, set the floor or the foundation for the wages and benefits for the rest of us. Take that away and we’ll be nickeled and dimed by the Millionaires and Billionaires every day for the rest of our lives. Our pensions and our salaries and our health benefits will disappear and our houses will get foreclosed on and sooner or later Bangladesh (or some Chinese sweatshop) will start looking like Paradise to us fools.

Realize that most of our current financial crisis WAS NOT caused by greedy unions and Social Security checks going to seniors or Medicare. It was greedy banks and mortgage companies and the pursuit of empire in the Middle East that was much of the cause of the current crisis. Restoring the Clinton-era tax rates would take care of most of the problem. Getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan would help tremendously. Scaling back on our more than 700 military installations around the world would help put us back on the road to full scale solvency.

You may not like unions. But when the Governors of Wisconsin and Ohio strip workers of their collective bargaining rights and get their first round of concessions on wages and benefits, they won’t stop there. They’ll be coming after what’s left of your pension and wages and benefits next. Maybe not this year or next, but it’s coming.

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