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Friday, February 18, 2011

In support of Obama: Indiana protests

A&G has been pretty critical of President Obama at times and to be frank, its been deserving.  But this is a politically atheistic blog- it neither supports or backs any particular political party or politician. Its only 'bias' is in support of the everyday person in this global recession masked as 'ongoing recovery'.  So when the President does something we disagree with, he'll be criticized.  And when he does something positive, the accolades will flow..   And today A&G gives credit and appreciation to the President...

Obama joins Wisconsin's budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill (Washington Post) - "President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin's broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals. Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an "assault" on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers."

"Under Walker's plan, most public workers - excluding police, firefighters and state troopers - would have to pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health-care costs. They would lose bargaining rights for anything other than pay... additional demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana, where an effort is underway to trim benefits for public workers. Some union activists predicted similar protests in Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

Good for the President!  Hope you can make a difference...

This posting is not about the specific battle within the halls of the Indiana state legislature as to specific cuts and concessions certain unions would have to make.   This is a broader political fight- the ultimate goal for Republicans to use the financial crisis that Wall St caused to break the backs of unions once and for all, and in the process try to roll back as many social safety nets from the last 70 years as possible.

In 1994, when the Republicans came into power under Newt Gingrich it battled with Bill Clinton so staunchly over budget cuts and reductions in programs, it forced a government shutdown.  And it the process, they were able to get Welfare Reform passed which did nothing but financially hurt the poorest of the poor, and increase the wealth gap amongst classes even further.

Today, the 2011 version want to make drastic cuts into Social Security, Medicare and other safety nets.  They actually would prefer individual states to go bankrupt especially in union-strong states so it would allow state Governors to break existing Union contracts and force future concessions.  State bankruptcy would also free Governors from existing pension obligations to millions of workers who've paid into the system for so many years.  This is why the Fed will bail out banks but not states.

There are some people who strongly dislike unions.  Perhaps when the word 'union' comes to mind, they think negative things like mobster-involvement, kickbacks and power grabs like the one Jimmy Hoffa attempted back in his day.   Those are valid and they are historically true.   But it is also historically true that pretty much every benefit and perk that workers enjoy today is due to unions fighting and suffering to obtain it.  It is to the credit of unions, that people enjoy the 8 hour/day- 40 hour week, safe & healthy working conditions, vacation time, health insurance, pensions, maternity leave, minimum wage, etc.

People forget there was a time in this nation's history prior to unions, when working conditions were appalling and extremely unsafe.  If you were severely injured on the job, you were fired with no compensation.  If you died on the job, your wife or next of kin would get $100.  And if you miss a day of work and were replaceable, you were fired.

You worked 12-14 hour days in sometimes excessively cramped  and unsanitary conditions that made people very sick and dramatically shortened the quality and duration of their lives.   It was not uncommon to have whole families working together at a factory-- husband, wife and children even as young as 10 years old.  You were paid next to nothing and treated like nothing.

The most amazing part of this recent news story is how many mainstream news sites and blogs are taking the side of the Indiana governor and legislature and intentionally painting an inaccurate picture of the unions as a mix between selfish and delusional.  Either these editorialists do not see the big picture or do not care.   The American worker is being killed off-- deliberately-- by American politicians and American business owners.  Its lost most of its manufacturing base over the last three decades and treaties like NAFTA have gutted employment opportunities.  And it is not hyperbole to say that if many corporations had its way, American workers would be paid similar wages to those in China.

We've become a sales and service sector society, as in "Would you like some fries with that?"  and "Sorry we're out of the size 8 shoe.."  Prices for everything go up-  wages go down- and credit/debt fills the void.   We're now a slave society where one doesn't work for a better future but to pay down existing debts while never fully able to get free from under.

If you care about the American worker..  if you care about yourself..  you will root for the unions in this battle vs the state governments.

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