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ECONOMICS -
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Loving Labor’s Losses

Posted in the database on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 @ 17:01:47 MST (2524 views)
by Jason Miller    Thomas Paine's Corner  

Untitled Document

Whoredom is optional

Are we not the whores of big business, selling our product for their commercial lust?

---Arthur Erickson

When George Bush spoke at a maritime training center in Piney Point, MD on Labor Day, 2006, ostensibly he was a respected leader paying tribute to the hard-working men and women forming the backbone of the nation’s economy.

In reality, Bush is a pimp for the moneyed interests and corporations who wield most of the wealth and power in the United States. Bush, his administration and Congress represent the interests of this tiny slice of the United States population with unwavering dedication. Money, profits, and property are the paramount elements in their perverse system of values. And by their reckoning, people are commodities. Those amongst the population who are fit to work are whores who exist to service their needs and satisfy their desires. And the aristocracy’s goal is to entice or extort their whores to perform as cheaply as possible. Disabled, infirm, elderly, and unemployable individuals are “useless eaters” who have no intrinsic value because they cannot produce profits. Ergo federal programs supporting their meaningless existences are rapidly shrinking.

Consider this excerpt from Bush’s laudatory speech (even a whore needs to have their ass kissed once in a while):

Today, on Labor Day, we honor those who work, and we honor those who work because, in so doing, we recognize that one of the reasons why we're the economic leader in the world is because of our work force. And the fundamental question facing the country is, how do we continue to be the economic leader in the world? What do we do to make sure that, when people look around the world next year, and 10 years from now, they say, the United States is still the most powerful economy in the world? I think that's an important goal to have, because when we're the most powerful economy in the world, it means our people benefit. It means there's job opportunities. That's what we want. We want people working. We want people to realize their dreams.

Bush wants to keep the “people working” so he and “his base” can continue to “realize their dreams”. Wage slaves in the United States who still believe they can achieve the American Dream are chasing a one in a million shot. Not unlike a gambling casino, the odds they face are tremendous and the house almost always wins. Almost no one successfully scales the craggy peaks separating the poor fro the rich in the United States. Yet like those who run the gaming industry, the aristocrats atop the economic order need that occasional “big winner” to “prove” that the system is still a meritocracy.

“One of the reasons why we’re the economic leader in the world is because of our work force.”

In an exceedingly rare moment, truth actually slipped out when George Bush opened his mouth. As he stated, our work force in the United States is indeed one of the principal reasons that this nation is the economic leader in the world. Bush and his people know that if the work force acted in unison and ceased performing for its paymasters, the merciless machinery of corporatism and predatory capitalism would quickly grind to a halt. And the parasitic three to four million who comprise the “uber-class” would realize their worst fear. Stripped of their tools of domination, they would experience the quiet desperation members of the working class perpetually endure as they scramble to satisfy their families’ basic needs.

If the man had an ounce of integrity, instead of delivering his disingenuous monologue trumpeting opportunities that barely exist and dreams principally reserved for “his base”, George Bush would have been begging forgiveness for his numerous serious transgressions against We the People and laying out a plan for wholesale changes in domestic economic policies. Our socioeconomic and political systems are almost hopelessly awash in corruption. If the United States has a prayer of avoiding a cataclysmic upheaval, the powers that be need to make significant changes in their exploitative and rapacious laws, policies, and behaviors. In other words, major corporations, wealthy elitists, and their proxies in DC need to start giving the Proletariat healthy doses of Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and economic justice.

What are some of the specific factors driving the need for significant changes in the prevailing socioeconomic paradigm in the United States?

Let’s dissect and analyze:

While New Zealand enacted the first minimum wage law in 1894, it took the “land of opportunity” until 1938 to permanently establish a minimum wage. In 1968, the purchasing power of the United States minimum wage was $9.12 per hour. Since 1997 the real amount of the minimum wage has remained frozen at $5.15 per hour. An employee working full time at minimum wage earns less than $11,000.00 per year. That is $8,000 below the federal government defined poverty level. France, Australia, and New Zealand each require employers to pay their employees at least $10 per hour. Obviously, they lack the heartlessness to be “the economic leader in the world.”

While the United States’ predacious form of capitalism inflicts horrific damage on people of other nations, many people in the United States are not exactly “sitting pretty”. Thirty million people working full time live below the poverty level. That is almost 10% of the US population. Both the US Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services have agreed that a family of four living on less than $18,000.00 per year is impoverished.

[Note concerning the federally-determined poverty level: “In 1964 the government's poverty level was arbitrarily set at three times the estimated cost of modest food purchase requirements for a family. The official rate is now below the amount required for basic necessities, and far below what is needed to function adequately in society.” World Socialist Website]

In a shameful testament to the avarice and cruelty of the United States’ socioeconomic system, impoverished families of four “raking in” less than $18,000 a year (and even “low income” families earning up to $36,000.00) suffer needlessly in the wealthiest nation in the history of humankind. According to studies by America’s Second Harvest, 36% of families seeking food from their relief pantries included at least one working adult. 32% of those seeking help from Second Harvest faced the cruel choice between buying food and obtaining medical care. Second Harvest also found that in 2002, 25% of low income families with a member working full time experienced food and shelter insecurity. The United States Conference of Mayors did a study which determined that 40% of people requesting emergency hunger relief were employed.

From 2004 to 2005, the number of US Americans without health insurance climbed from 45.3 to 46.6 million. One of every six US Americans faces the most expensive health care system in the world (both per capita and as a percentage of GDP) without the safety net of insurance. A shamefully low 60% of US workers receive coverage from their employers. Lamentably, over 11% of children in the United States have no health insurance.

To add some perspective, the 46.6 million uninsured are or represent:

Over 12 times the number of millionaires (3.8 million) in the United States

Almost equal to all Americans age 65 and older (35.9 million)

12 million more than the population of Canada (32.2 million)

Nearly 7,500 uninsured Americans for each hospital in America

Over 84,000 uninsured Americans for each Member of Congress

(Thanks to the Center for American Progress for the above information)

Increasingly empty wallets and hunger pangs are painful reminders that corporate America has shredded the social contract with the working class in the United States. Organized labor struggled for over a century to pry job security, fair wages, and benefits from the greedily clenched fists of the bourgeoisie. Ronald Reagan initiated an assault on unions that has virtually erased over a hundred years of progress in less than a third of that time. Employing tactics which are extremely averse to the working class, pathologically acquisitive multi-national corporations have taken their quest for global domination to new heights with disastrous results for human beings around the world.

Thanks to the zealous efforts of moneyed interests, a growing number of people in the United States are exchanging their blood, sweat and tears for slave wages. Forget the American Dream of picturesque homes in quiet suburbia, the annual rite of experiencing the “new car smell”, 1.5 healthy children, college educations for everyone willing to work hard, and a “happily ever after” existence. Over ten million US Americans are engaged in a struggle for their very survival. Their American Nightmares include periods of homelessness, food pantries, soup kitchens, the isolation of urban ghettos, and choosing medicine for baby over dinner. And these are the working poor of the United States of America.

So the next time Bush crows about an unemployment rate of 4.7%, remember that an additional 10% of the US population is working and wanting for basic human needs.

And when Bush boasts of the “robust economy”, why doesn’t someone scream at him that the fruits of this “robustness” are being devoured by a relative few? The 30 million working poor, 16 million unemployed, and 46 million uninsured obviously aren’t accessing the cornucopia.

So what of the rest of the working class?

According to an Economic Policy Institute study:

Wages stopped rising and actually began losing ground starting in 2001, despite continued growth in productivity and corporate profits, according to an analysis of government data in "The State of Working America: 2006/2007"

From 2000 to 2005, US American productivity increased 18.6%. Meanwhile, average family income diminished by 6.5%. Corporate profit share is at its highest level in the United States since the 1960’s. And what of the employees producing these profits for their corporate masters? Salaries and wages now represent the lowest percentage of GDP since the government began tracking such statistics in the 1940’s.

And for a real eye-opening statistic, consider that in 2005 the average CEO received compensation that equaled 821 times that of a minimum wage earner and 262 times that of an average employee. At that income level, the CEO accrued enough pay by noon of their first day to eclipse the minimum wage earner’s annual salary. By the end of that day, the CEO racked up enough pay to surpass the yearly salary of their average employee.

Unions, the driving force behind the movement for workers’ rights, continue to experience plummeting membership. From its soaring heights in 1960 (when 33% of the work force was unionized) to its pathetic low (in 2005 about 10% of the working class belonged to unions), organized labor faces the real possibility of forced extinction in the United States. Feeble enforcement of labor protection laws by the federal government coupled with abusive and illegal anti-union tactics by corporate behemoths like Wal-Mart have virtually crushed the organizational power of the US American work force.

It is not looking too robust for the rest of the working class either.

Yet We the People are not powerless. Consider some ideas for individuals or groups to pursue, implement or demand:

1. How about increasing the minimum wage to a level that would at least put a full time worker receiving minimum wage above poverty level and tying automatic increases to the consumer price index?

2. On 10/5/06, The World Can’t Wait campaign is calling on workers, consumers, and students to engage in a mass strike and boycott. Participate and cripple the corporate machine!

3. Join and form unions when possible.

4. Engage in massive long-term boycotts to support striking unions and to oppose corporations that are hostile to workers’ rights.

5. Push the development of an effective and efficient national health care plan back to the forefront of the domestic agenda. The United States has the most expensive healthcare system in the world but ranks 37th in terms of quality. “Capitalized medicine” is an abysmal failure to humanity. If water distribution warrants public management, so does a basic human need like health care.

6. Organize and/or participate in a mass drive to add a Constitutional amendment eliminating corporate personhood, a Constitutional amendment barring corporations from engaging in the political process, and legislation imposing heavy taxes on corporate profits (which would decrease proportionally with the distribution of corporate profits amongst ALL of a corporation’s employees).

7. Buy goods and services from small entrepreneurs in lieu of corporate chains when it is feasible.

8. Drop out of the culture of mindless consumption to the extent it is possible. Don’t buy much beyond what you and your family truly need.

9. Resist the lure of using easy credit to live beyond one’s means.

10. Reject the lies of the corporate media. Turn off the television and educate yourself by reading a book or scouring the Internet for information.

11. Push for state and local laws to enhance the rights of working people and diminish the rights of corporations.

12. Press hard for the impeachment of the Bush administration which would rid the White House of the cockroach-like infestation of corporate interests, war criminals, and traitors to our Constitutional republic.

13. Visit, utilize, and support Barbara Ehrenreich's new venture called United Professionals. Barbara utilized seed money from the Service Employees International Union to create this organization to lobby Congress for universal health coverage, "livable incomes, benefits and social supports."

For the time being, a degree of wage slavery is probably inevitable (barring a major revolution to subvert the deeply entrenched corporatism to which even some of its victims stubbornly cling). Family obligations, basic human needs, and the extreme rarity of Horatio Alger successes leave the working class with little choice but to submit to the ruling class to some extent.

However, We the People are not powerless. A measure of obedience may be unavoidable, but whoredom is optional.

Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically and his essays have appeared widely on the Internet. He welcomes constructive correspondence at willpowerful@hotmail.com or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.

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