by Philip A. Farruggio
June 10, 2012
In Wisconsin and in two major cities in California, voters (made up mostly of working folks) chose to restrict the benefit packages and wage increases for public service AKA government employees. Some say that since most of the workers in these places, and throughout America, are employed by the private sector, the attitude became one of resentment. The private sector and non union (in most cases) workers were fed up of seeing their counterparts getting better benefit packages and wage increases. I call it Interclass warfare. Sad, isn’t it, when the less than 1% of our nation can create such divisions within the labor force. Yet, that was only part of the problem that this week’s voting revealed. In Wisconsin the voters chose to side with a governor who was open and honest about his goal to eliminate collective bargaining within the public service sector. What that means is to cut the legs off of the union movement… first with the government workers and then soon to be copied by the private sector companies.
Why is this all happening NOW? Well, the answer is so obvious, yet our mainstream media and even within our labor movement few if any will deal with it. Former president Eisenhower labeled it the Military Industrial Complex, and it has all but bankrupted our economy. Within 10 years our military spending has almost doubled! Last year we taxpayers were charged 56 cents of every dollar we sent to Uncle Sam for military spending. Never before in the history of our nation has it ever approached such an amount. We have over 800 permanent military bases in over 100 different countries. We illegally invaded and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, to the tune of over 100 billion tax dollars a year. It costs us 1.2 million dollars to keep one soldier in Afghanistan for a year. That would pay the salaries of 30 teachers, police officers or firemen at $40k a year each. Where is the outrage?
Historically, our Congress was able to send money to the states for their budgets and their cities’ budget problems. This was called the system of revenue sharing. The money was sent to the states in the form of block grants, meaning the money did not have to be paid back. Pretty good, right? Well, that all ended with our devotion to invading countries and occupying them. That all ended with the fear button being pushed down the throats of the public. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties have enabled the Pentagon and the Military Industrial Complex to get more and more of our hard earned tax dollars. Last year the military spending that we even know about was over $560 billion. That did not include what many site as the black budget, or money funneled into military programs which have no congressional oversight. It does not matter who occupies the White House, whether it be Reagan or Bush 1 and 2 or Clinton or Obama… they all dance to the piper. The Congress and the Presidency has for the most part been owned not only by Wall Street, but by this War Empire.
If only the hard working American labor force would take a moment to ponder. If the CEOs of our Fortune 100 companies are earning in excess of 400 times that of their lowest paid full time employee… shouldn’t we have a society whereupon ALL working stiffs have good benefit packages and wage increases? Let’s extend that conversation and say that shouldn’t ALL Americans have the same medical and dental coverage that those CEOS have? I could go on and on but let us leave it at that. If you work for a living ANYWHERE you should be allied with ALL your fellow working stiffs for fair wages and benefits. The bottom line is this: If we cut the military spending by 25% and sent the savings back to the states etc, there would be NO budget crisis in any state or city!!! Period!! Stop supporting political parties and candidates who oppose such an idea.
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on the fine Dandelion Salad site), an environmental products sales rep and an activist. Since 2010, Philip is a spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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we who care need to look BEYOND the intra class warfare that the right wing is starting ( and Democrats do nothing about ) and focus on the cause of our problems: This MILITARY INDUSTRIAL EMPIRE! all our towns and cities are BROKE… the phony wars and phony spending on military equipment and and occupations is bankrupting us. the working stiffs, union or not, need to get out and demand an end to this maddness! when over 50% of our hard earned and over taxed money goes to this ‘ sewer of disgrace ‘ …
get out and hold signs in public to educate our neighbors!
P.S. – Private Sector jobbers: remember when the BOTU were buying you off high when their $chemes were nominal, we public servants envied (but didn’t “cut you off at the BILL$” RESENT) y’all! So now, cut the 1% CRAP, Instead!
Labor Union rank and file are being led to believe that the Dems, as the ‘lesser of two evils’, are the only game worth working for. The Dems are doing NADA for the working class.
So Obama wins the Presidency. I’m literally dancing in the streets downtown. A higher up in the county Democrat party (Vice-Chair I think) asks me why I’m so happy. I tell her, “We just won!”…. “Labor unions just won!” I continue. “Labor unions have no future, relics of the past,” she says.
When will the rest of the left, and the center, think labor unions are important again? Does a primarily environmentalist leftist think labor unions are a huge part of their strategy for getting their policies? NO, they don’t, but they should! If they think, for a second, that robber barons, the kind of people that literally rule a country without a strong labor third party NGO, care about the environment that the dirty classes live in they are wrong.
It all comes down to whether we have a middle class representative in government in order for it to represent OUR interests. They won’t be there without a strong middle class buttressed by labor unions for ALL of your causes. But you won’t fight for it, because the robber barons have you convinced labor unions aren’t about middle class policies.
ps – love how this is linked to Michael Hudson’s article on DEBT PEONAGE. Very nice.
Excellent. Excellent. Excellent! I wish this got HUGE “airplay” as that is MY question. Privatization, brought to you by nazi Koch brothers, Heritage Foundation .. and NOW to be stuffed down yer throats by the DemocRATS soon. People get right upset w/me when I finger the union MANAGERS as the biggest problem; but they and their damned yuppie “organizers” ARE the biggest problem w/ENABLING the slumbering masses to stay asleep or glued to the tube. Don’t just get out in the streets w/demos! Educate, agitate, ORGANIZE. Dissent is being criminalized and the unions pick on those who are arrested, get sick or go homeless. FOR SHAME! Many of these SEIU/AFSCME/AFLCIO hacks are one paycheck away from disaster themSelves. They are leading NOTHING and have no intention of “getting it” that I can discern .. The SEIU action in DC in December showed me alot!! For shame on them. In Canada, the better unions DEMAND the right to have jobs that are SAFE and don’t force people to make weapons. What union here can claim that? (and I think making pharmaceuticals to keep people chemically restrained should also be a no-no as that is how the MIC is making war on people at home .. .)