Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day casts a grim shadow

Labor Day has come and gone. The ceremonial ending of summer, a holiday - for federal workers, but not many of the rest of us - has been celebrated, grills made use of. Sadly, however, we find the outlook less than rosy on this holiday meant to honor working people.

It has been some time since being a working person in America has been a worse bargain. Unions - which give workers their only power to bargain for fair wages and decent benefits against massive corporations and other big employers - have been, with some notable but few exceptions, abolished, or at least broken and neutered, rendered impotent by pro-corporate legislation passed by the bought and paid for members of the United States Congress and White House, over the last 30-35 years. The gulf between rich and poor continues to grow and the those who are not rich are seeing their standard of living drop further and further.

Our current economic collapse shows no real sings of abetting, and nobody is adding jobs. Even federal employees, once thought safe from such disasters, are seeing their wages and benefits reduced.

To borrow a phrase from Obi-Wan Kenobi, "it is a dark time for the empire."

I would like to say something optimistic, to praise working people, and to argue that they can get some of their rights and power back. And indeed, I am quite sure that they can do so. But the immediate outlook is grim.

By pursuing fairly conservative economic policies, by eschewing more progressive ideas, Obama has failed to create jobs, failed to boost the economy. The stimulus was too small, too weak, too focused on tax cuts and minor lending. There was no real attempt to move the country toward a green economy, which would have created far more jobs, no attempt to hire more teachers, no attempts to bolster public service ... at least no more than minimal attempts. Apparently when we require money to build bombs, bail out banks, and kill people in distant lands, we have a bottomless pit of funds, but when it comes to building better roads, hiring more nurses, hiring teachers and paying them better, funding public libraries, and so on, we just "can't spare the cash."

Obama, I think, did this because he did not want to seem too "radical" too "liberal." And what has he accomplished? In all probability a radically far right, and, to be honest, rather crazy, GOP will probably take control of both houses this November. They will undo even the minimal gains Obama's white house has brought us. They will hurt working people more than they ever did before.

Ironically, many working people will vote in to office the very hacks and liars who are going to destroy their livelihood even further than it has already been destroyed.

Not only is it a dark time for the empire and for working people, but, to quote now from the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, "I can't be sure, but I think it's gonna get darker before it gets lighter."

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