Why the Attack on Unions?

Listening to the news today, I find it appalling and shameful that so many Americans are still without jobs, struggling day after day to make ends meet. Why have millions of men and women, including our friends and neighbors, been discarded even though they may have worked for decades and been contributing members to our communities? Why isn’t this seen as a national emergency?

Our country, with all its natural resources, must also value the inhabitants of this land. Every day, more and more people don’t have enough money for food or rent, and with all the horror of recent natural disasters too, we Americans are increasingly frightened: what is to become of us? This contradicts the idea that we grew up with: that we could have anything we set our minds to in this great country. Our children’s educations are increasingly at risk with schools closing and teachers being laid off. Many children are also among the hungry and homeless: how can they be fed and housed if their families don’t have jobs?

One reassurance in these days has been unions’ historic ability to protect working people from arbitrary firings and for securing decent wages, benefits, and safer workplaces. It makes me angry at the recent bald-faced attempts to break unions and the malicious efforts of politicians to sway the public against them. We need unions now more than ever.

An important answer is in this statement by Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism. He stated:

There will be no economic recovery in the world until economics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs, becomes ethical; is based on good will rather than on the ill will which has been predominant for centuries.

This provides a road map for how we should see the US economy, so that the right steps can be taken to create jobs, maintain justice in the workplace, and take care of our children, so that all Americans can have a brighter future.

Rachel Bernstein
New York, N.Y.

Bible Offers Judeo-Christian Defense of Labor Unions

Regarding John Nichols’ “Democracy Rises in Madison” report [4/1/11 TPP]: This includes the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Wis.

It is a social justice issue. In his 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII declared:

“We may lay it down as a general and lasting law that workingmen’s associations should be organized and governed as to furnish the best and most suitable means for ... helping each individual member to better his condition to the utmost in body, soul and property.”

Subsequent Popes wrote encyclicals stressing the need for a living wage and the rights of labor. It was the Solidarity labor union in Poland that toppled the Soviet Union to some degree.

Burton L. Mack’s The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (New York, 1993) says: “A characteristic of the Greco-Roman age was the formation of a variety of craft guilds organized for economic protection in the wild and wooly world of international trade.” (p. 67)

The Bible says: “Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion.

“Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up ... Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.

Game of Chicken Coming to Roost

The Republicans certainly got my attention today. I kept checking the Internet to see if the government was going to shut down or remain functioning. I learned that their original demand for $30 billion cuts in government services was agreed to by the Democrats (without closing corporate tax loopholes that enable General Electric to pay zero tax on profits of billions).

So the Republicans upped their demand to $61 billion. The Democrats gave in to $39 billion (with no estate tax on the super-rich’s progeny). Since Democrats were still willing to compromise, the Republicans went “for broke” and insisted on cutting health care for low income women (using Planned Parenthood as the symbol). Now, yes finally NOW, the Democrats are offering some resistance to this insane schoolyard game of chicken.

Republicans showed that winning, so-called, is more important than governing. They are willing to disrupt vital government services to protect their super-wealthy benefactors.

They resent providing health, education and social services to the most wretched in our society, and have successfully pushed the cost onto hard-working middle class and off the top one percent who own nearly half the wealth in this country. Republicans have conned many folks that the problem is the government. Now, Tea Party supporters can see the real problem ... that the government is run by Republicans who represent the very people who have gotten obscenely wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.

Obama Represents ‘No Change’

This list of mine grows. Underlying it, really, is my puzzlement. I want America to do well: my grandkids live here.

I’m not an anti-America grandstander. However, these are serious situations that let me down, so I started keeping a list unfavorable to Pres. Obama, whom I’d rather not see re-elected. I want a strong progressive candidate in his place:

1) Obama’s Republican ambassador to China (how’d that happen?) Jon Huntsman is stepping up to be a Presidential candidate;

2) His new Chief of Staff is right out of J.P. Morgan & Chase;

3) Off-shore drilling can resume;

4) The White House’s David Axelrod helped push through Monsanto’s GM alfalfa (and subsequent Roundup use), our pollinating bees‚ life-system-needs be damned, organic farmers / bee-keepers be damned;

5) Guantanamo “saved”/military trials back in the plan;

6) Afghanistan and Iraqi wars continue to demand an outrageous outlay in the budget for the military, let alone kill/maim innocents where they live or our soldiers where they are sent;

7) His announced re-election plan reveals he thinks he threw two good bones to his liberal/progressive supporters of 2008: health care reform and repeal of “Don’t Ask”; however, that health care reform lost the cost-cutting public option, and “Don’t Ask” is held up for implementation;

8) Fracking as part of gas drilling is still exempt from clean water regulations, a la Bush/Cheney’s “energy policy”;

9) Obama includes nuclear power in “clean” energy, oblivious to radiation’s dangers in both the mining and the fuel cycle and disposal problems and accidental releases into the environment ;

10) Obama is ignorant of the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade and what that difference means to labor and to the environment;

11) Obama has no imagination. He can’t see the system he inherited changed.

12) On the budget crisis/government shut-down, William Rivers Pitt calls Obama “alarmingly conciliatory” and makes a case for that (4/7).

Lynn Rudmin Chong
Sanbornton, N.H.

Japan Gets Even

“Tokyo Electric to Build US Nukes” [4/15/11 TPP] would seem to me proof positive that Japan doesn’t get mad about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It gets even. If Pacific Gas & Electric and Met-Ed haven’t been able to do us in, maybe Tokyo Electric will.

While Greg Palast and Alexander Cockburn articles hit nails on head, Bob Cavnar suggests we call our Congresspersons. He has to be too young (maybe) to recall something bequeathed to us by two of the finest congresspersons that ever should have backed out of patrol wagons: Price and Anderson, who gave us their Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, good till 2025, which obligates the taxpayers to pick up the difference between what an accident would cost to “repair” and what the insurance companies would be willing to pay our privately owned electric companies.

That difference is measured in billions or trillions, and their Act is the sole enabler of today’s nuclear electricity, “too cheap to measure.” Something else that was not able to be measured because the Geiger-Counters read off-scale is what was in the air that blew out of the stacks at Three Mile Island in 1979.

That and the latency period for radiation-induced cancer don’t seem to get much discussion in this latest crisis. I haven’t a clue as to what the solution is ... But the idea of communicating anything in words to the most severely mentally challenged legislature in the history of the human race strikes me as a waste of breath. As when Mark Twain described it, the US Congress is still “the only distinctly criminal class in the country.” If the natural gas industry wasn’t in a race with the nuke industry to bring down the final curtain on homo sapiens via its hydrofracking, I’d suggest we revisit Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Plea For Gas Lamps.”

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

Why Not Keep Things Simple?

There are several organizations measuring important issues to determine which countries are the most desirable to live in.

These measurements consist of literacy level, individual savings, inflation levels, employment levels, longevity, vacations, freedoms enjoyed, health and level of satisfaction in general.

The following ranking was determined by Legatum Institute, a London think tank.

1. Norway; 2. Denmark; 3. Finland; 4. Australia; 5. New Zealand; 6. Sweden; 7. Canada; 8. Switzerland; 9. The Netherlands; 10. The United States.

All of the above, except for the US entitle their citizens to universal health care, so to argue that government involvement bankrupts a country is nonsense.

All of the above practice free enterprise and the means of production are not in the hands of the government, but we demonize the 9 out of 10 by calling them socialist nations, even though we too entitle social security by law.

Here, only people over 65 get Medicare and, of course, our legislators gave themselves the right to health care and generous pensions regardless of age. Of the 10, we have by far the highest unemployment as well as the highest debt. Bringing this up is not meant to put America down, but to take the fear out of the word “socialism” which is used by you-know-which party as (false) propaganda.

No other country I know of needs one billion dollars to one party for one election.

Why do we have to make things so unnecessarily complicated?

John A. van Huizum
Acton, Calif.

On Our Way to Fascism

Regarding Holhut’s “Persistence of Fascism …” article [4/15/11 TPP], we are absolutely on our way to becoming a corporatist-fascist-plutocratic state. Our representative democracy does not represent the people any longer.

Congress, by and large, works for corporate and wealthy interests, regardless of party. And they do not feel compelled to hide their distain for Americans outside the wealthiest 1% or the fact that they shamelessly sell their votes to the highest bidders. As Dean Baker points out elsewhere, redistribution of wealth upward is a fast-moving phenomenon. And yet we mostly sit idly by, feeling powerless or ignoring reality. The only answer is collective resistance. As the authors of the new book Winner-Take-All Politics clearly point out, corporate interests solidified in the late 1970s to push their agenda, and there has been no effective counter-movement close to that scale and size to stop them, especially with the enervation of unions.

Progressives must abandon clinging to hope that Obama or the Democrats really have the people’s best interests at heart and will “save” us. That kind of wishful thinking is insanity. Progressives must unite, stay involved in reclaiming and promoting democracy, and show others who don’t label themselves as such that we have much in common … at least a common enemy. Only then can we take our country back. As the great Frederick Douglass noted over 150 years ago, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Alexander Clayton
Westminster, Colo.

Need New Party

I’ve been aware for a long time that we live under the rule of one political party masquerading as two. [“Two Parties Hurt US Government,” 3/15/11 TPP].

Our indistinguishable political party which we call Democrat or Republican, is actually owned and administered by the industrial military complex and other corporations.

We the People are no longer in command. In fact, we’ve become insignificant.

Since both the Republicans and the Democrats have abandoned us, we must abandon them if we are to recover our government from those bandits.

I trust there are, within this great country, other political parties whose leaders have the integrity to look after the commonwealth — instead of selective wealth. Leaders who will work to end constant warfare and corporate welfare.

I recently joined the American Socialist Party because I truly yearn for leaders who are doing all they can to restore the middle class and help the poor.

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2011


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