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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Happy Labor Day...? Not so much... A holiday outpouring of truth...
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Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day...? Not so much... A holiday outpouring of truth...

here's some of the juicier parts of juan cole's labor day rant... it's a beaut and i strongly suggest reading the whole thing... it captures what should be the essence of this day and places it firmly in the context of our present, sad reality...
The unemployment rate as a write is inching toward 10 percent nationally, and that is only counting people who were still looking for a job recently. A vast bank robbery by the corrupt on Wall Street has robbed them of the credit that made the economy go. Labor Day was passed by Congress under Grover Cleveland to celebrate not only the individual American laborer but the labor movement-- yes, unions, workers' parades, hard hats and blue jeans (before the youth movement of the 1960s appropriated them, blue jeans were working class clothing, and my working class relatives upbraided me for wearing them as an undergraduate) . It is to celebrate all those icons that shills for the barracuda billionaires, such as Glenn Beck, now castigate as "fascist" and "communist."


The closest we get to celebrating the workers who built this country is when we talk about "working families," an odd locution, since aside from the idle rich who defrauded the country into bankruptcy last fall, wouldn't that be everyone?


Fewer effective unions have left American workers at the mercy of predatory company policies. Government has, since Ronald Reagan (who hated organized workers the way the devil hates holy water), also socially-engineered the tax laws so as to throw enormous further wealth at the wealthy. As a result, the average wage of the average worker in the United States has not increased since 1970 (in 2004 the bottom 60% of the population was actually making less in real terms per capita each year than in 1979). In contrast, the top 1% of the population by income now takes home nearly 20% of the country's annual income. The top 1%, about 3 million persons, has gone from owning 25% of the privately held wealth in the 1950s under Eisenhower to owning over a third today. The top 10 percent of Americans own almost all the country's privately-held property.


Reagan-Cheney between 1980 and 2008 created a new American aristocracy, a small sliver of super-rich, who buy and sell legislators, create whole "news networks" to present far right wing fantasies as "news," have their lackeys invade and occupy whole countries, hold themselves above the law, falsify financial statements, and suffer little or no punishment for stealing billions from the pensions of "working families" (i.e. those of us about whom P.T. Barnum remarked, "one is born every minute".) The Republican Party has come to represent these super-rich. Since .1% of the population couldn't actually win elections, they ally with other groups in society. About two-thirds of evangelicals have joined up with them, about a third of Latinos, significant numbers of mid-western rural families, and obviously large numbers of white southerners. In some cases these are lower middle class people on the make, who want to hitch their wagons to the brightest stars in the sky. In others, they share with the super-rich various resentments of the federal government. This alliance of odd bedfellows (think of Paris Hilton married to Joe Sixpack) is what produces the wackiness of Republican Party politics and media. They can't come out and say that they want the country run for the benefit of 300,000 multi-millionaires and billionaires (almost all of them white), so they say they are all in favor of guns, apple pie, Jay-sus and the Confederacy.


represents the poor schmucks who make up the 80 percent of the population that has been reduced to peasants by our new dukes, viscounts and princesses who have captured the lion's share of the country's wealth and income. Obviously, elements in the top 20% (and even more so in the top 1%) are not happy about any outbreak of democracy.

oh, god forbid we should even FLIRT with real democracy...

professor cole closes with this and a quote from carl sandberg's poem, chicago...

I celebrate today the organized workers, the ones who can push back against the crooks in pinstripe:
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people

i see our new class of peasantry wherever i look these days - immigrant labor mowing lawns, joe sixpacks driving fedex delivery vans, stooped, elderly women ringing up purchases at walmart, young teens taking orders at fast food restaurants, middle-aged men manning security guard posts... we're all falling into line, taking our places in the service economy, eating highly processed, unhealthy food, going home to a house with an underwater mortgage to relax in front of our new giant, flat-screen tv that we bought on credit last december...

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