August 31, 2010

Labor Day 2010: America’s Class War

By LUPA Advisory Council Chair and Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

With Labor Day 2010 fast approaching on September 6, the United States finds herself at a cross roads. Perhaps not since the Civil War has the country been so divided over ideology and opinion. In 1861 a number of forces merged and resulted in the secession of a number of the southern states from the union. Today there is no secession planned but forces are at work to undermine the working class on this one day of the year set aside in their honor. As Labor Day approaches we find ourselves in the middle of class war with the ruling class using everything in their arsenal against the working class.

The mouth pieces of the wealthy and affluent fill the air waves of talk of “taking our country back” but you have to ask yourself just “who is taking the country back?” Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are millionaires and cater to the rich and affluent crowd. Glenn Beck’s rants are staged and rehearsed round down to the crying. The conservative media speak for the wealthy at the expense of the working class. According to the Huffington Post Glenn Beck made $32 million last year while Limbaugh packed in $28 million. When they talk about talking back “our country” they mean their rich friends.

The working class continues to be squeezed this year. Real wages have been stagnating and unemployment remains high. In a time when America’s working families need help, those promoting this class warfare are against anything to help struggling families. At the same time they promote ideals that tilt the scales to the wealthy.  Take extending unemployment benefits for example, the talking heads all railed against saying it was bad for the economy. However at the same time they push the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts. The President has proposed letting the tax cuts for those making $250,000 a year expire. The Beck’s and Limbaugh’s of the world say letting the tax cuts expire would hurt the economy.  Economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics estimates that every dollar spent on the Bush tax cuts generated 32 cents of economic activity. However, Zandi also stated that every dollar spent on extending unemployment benefits generates $1.61 of economic activity, every dollar spent on infrastructure generates $1.57 in economic activity and for every dollar spent avoiding teacher layoffs $1.41 cents of economic activity is generated. Unemployment, infrastructure and teacher investments all benefit the working class and were all opposed by the conservative media while they hawk the need to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Tea Party movement screams about “smaller government and less regulation on business.” It has been the deregulation of the business community that has been a major contributor to the economic crisis we are currently in. Wall Street has run amuck “redistributing wealth” and in the process has decimated the working class. First off Beck and Limbaugh constantly talk about “socialism and the redistribution of wealth” under President Obama. However, they have it all wrong- President Obama’s policies have not been about redistributing wealth but rather STOPPING the redistribution of wealth that began in 1980 under President Reagan and escalated under President Bush.  During President Bush’s tenure in the White House real earnings for working class families were down on average $2000 a year. In 2004 alone the wealthiest 1% saw they income rise by 12.5% in a single year. The idea of trickledown economics goes back to Reagan, but these numbers prove that income is “not trickling down” but rather staying at the top. During the eight years of the Bush administration the top 1% accounted for 40% of total household income – more than the bottom 90% of all households combined.

Another way to look at this redistribution of wealth is to look at productivity in the manufacturing sector. From 1950 to 1980 productivity in the workplace rose 93% while wages rose 89%. Since 2000, U.S. productivity has rose 20% while wages have seen a 1% bump.  Between 2000 and 2006 corporate profits rose by 10% - more than five times the growth they had seen over the past 50 years. These additional profits as the result of increased productivity did not trickle down but rather remained in the pockets of the social elites.

Then there is the issue of government regulation. Nothing emphasizes this point better than the example of Massey CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Board Member Don Blankenship who last Labor Day staged an anti-union labor day rally to slander labor and the idea of global warming.  During the rally Blankenship attacked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), claiming it “seeks power over coal miners.” He felt he was in a better position to determine what was safe for miners. Unfortunately on April 5, 2010 29 miners lost their lives in an explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. After spending Labor Day 2009 railing against regulation, his irresponsible actions cost these men their lives less than a month after the MSHA issued 53 new citations to the mine.

The deregulation of Wall Street is another example of what happens when no one monitors the powers that be and their greedy actions. The result of that fiasco will cost our grandchildren for years.

So this Labor Day America’s working families find themselves in the midst of this class war with the rich and powerful as they manipulate the media and have their own private guns in Beck and Limbaugh to spread misinformation. The sad part is that far too many working class families listen to and accept this rhetoric as well. The worst part of being at war is not being sure which side you stand on. Back when the Bush tax cuts were passed into law, American Billionaire and vocal critic of the tax cuts Warren Buffett stated “if there is a class war in this country, my class is winning.”

This Labor Day remember those who the day is set aside for- you the American worker.  Also never forget your place in the current class war. Don’t be fooled by those who want to “take back the country for the rich” and remember America’s working families.


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Webmaster John Davis

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