I wrote about my grandfather's work in the ironworkers union. He was not a violent man; he was a strong man. He began working in the foundry as a young man after his uncle got him the job. During his first week on the job he saw a man severely burned. The man was taken home to either heal or die and the company had no interest in it either way. They simply hired a new man. There were no safety meetings or hard hats and if you wanted gloves or safety glasses you had better buy some.
There was a sense of moral outrage inside of him. He felt there was a limit to what wealth entitled you to have; that when you stop treating people like human beings and instead treat them like cattle, or less, then you've stepped over the line. He paid a price for his sentiments. Some of his children resented his being gone all the time at union meetings and resented his hard-nosed attitude for causing the deprivations they were forced to endure.
My father told me about a strike that began near Thanksgiving and didn't end until after New Years and added, "Guess what I got for Christmas." His children resented the way he left his wife alone to run the house. Yet no man can serve two masters. He couldn't sit in the house cuddling with his wife thinking about maybe being burned to death the next day. What would happen to his wife and his children then?
He never made the decision; the decision made him. He could no longer ignore the rain. He could no longer just shrug his shoulders and say, "Oh well, that's just the way it goes."
There is a battle that has been going on since this country was founded, between wealth and individuals. Many of the people that we call pioneers were in fact refugees trying to escape the slums of the East Coast. As soon as they settled the prairies the railroads moved in and began manipulating freight rates to squeeze the small farmers. There are many farm towns still today where railroad men are viewed with an eye of suspicion.
During the California Gold Rush banking interests in New York feared the government establishing a new mint out West. They argued that if the government established a mint in California that it might lead to secession if California was allowed to accumulate all that wealth. So the gold was shipped out by sailing ships or by railroad to keep the New York banking interests from missing out on the bonanza. That's why in all the old Western movies the prospectors were paying in gold dust; the western territories were gold rich but cash poor. That's why the mint was finally built in Denver rather than in California.
The railroad tycoons building across the continent were given land grants by the government that extended twenty miles on either side of the track. They in turn sold the land to immigrants at low prices or gave it away for free, not because they were trying to be nice but because they wanted customers along the line. The farmers were then dependent on the railroad to deliver seed and tools and to ship their crops back east when the freight rates shot sky-high in September.
This is neither left wing nor right wing politics, this is capitalism. The goal is to make as much money as possible while paying out the least that is possible. The President and Congress are never going to announce they have a new plan to screw you raw. Their plans will always be to improve things and to make things better, but the devil is in the details. The Reagan tax cuts shifted the tax burden from the wealthy to the working class. The Bush tax cuts did the same; there has been an ongoing program to take from the middle and give to the rich.
Some people think that these things are accidents or can't be helped. Franklin Roosevelt said, "In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." Even when the truth leaks out, as in the war in Iraq or Obama's deal with health care executives, many duck their heads and let the truth roll down their backs like rainwater and pretend that it is not so. They want to live their lives saying, "Oh well, that's just the way it goes."
This is from the CIA Factbook. This is what your government tells its CIA employees is the truth. "The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,900. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace."
Read that again, "In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions." Is that what you learned in civics class?
"US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets." What about free trade and open borders and all that good horse sh*t? Read that, "at the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets."
"US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a two-tier labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits." When was the last time you heard a politician from either party talk about the two-tiered labor market?
"Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military." Why can't we afford single payer healthcare? Why can't we do all of the things that the American people want done? "The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military."
And why can't we change that? "In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions." Why are other economies recovering while the US is not? "US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets."