Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Madness [Profits Before People]

¡Hola! Everybody…
A recent PEW study came out showing that news coverage for McCain during the last six weeks was more negative than coverage for Obama. Conservative pundits immediately pounced on this study as proof that the media “is in the tank for Obama” as Neo Nazi commentator Pat Buchanan put it on the preposterous McLaughlin Group.

Of course, Pat and the rest conveniently forget to note that the study’s authors acknowledged some observers would use the findings to argue that the major media have a pro-Obama bias, they also said their data did not support such allegations.

What I find glaringly obvious is that the same PEW recently noted that during the same period almost 100% of McCain’s campaign ads were negative. Now, wouldn’t it follow that if you’re putting out an avalanche of scurrilous charges and a blitz of negative campaign ads that the result would be to report that negativity? That gets my ::blank stare:: of the day…

For my conservative readers who claim to value intelligence and foresight, please watch the following video and tell me again why you would vote for this individual?

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-=[ Profits Before People ]=-

“I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.”

-- Thomas Paine (1737–1809) American revolutionary, writer The Age of Reason

My uncle by his own admission wasn’t an intellectual. He dropped out of school before he reached high school, though he read a lot and possessed a natural ability with gadgets. My father’s side of the family was left orphaned in the midst of a depression, so my uncle went to work.

Eventually, my father’s family moved to New York City where my uncle married. Shortly thereafter, he would fight in the Korean War.

Upon his return he sometimes worked three jobs at a time, barely able to keep his family afloat. Eventually, he gained entry as a printer’s apprentice, worked his way through the ranks, and became of printer. He worked with much enthusiasm because the printing industry was unionized and he found he was able to support his family -- all three children -- on one paycheck. He had fully funded health insurance, an annual paid vacation, and a good pension waiting for him when he retired. My uncle, with some savings and veterans benefits would eventually buy a home across the river in New Jersey and become part of the middle class.

This was the America my uncle fought for and believed in. He passed away a few years ago, but towards the end of his life he expressed sadness because he felt that America -- an America that looked after the middle class and working poor -- was a thing of the past.

My uncle would say that today most Americans don’t have that reassurance any more. More than 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance to cover expenses for serious illness; more than 5 million have lost their health insurance in the past 5 years alone. Even those lucky enough to have health insurance sometimes find that their insurers won’t cover certain treatments. And it’s not just illness that worries most Americans today. Today Americans work more for less pay in less stable jobs.

It’s getting harder and harder to get by and for a long time conservatives have used the anxiety felt by the middle class to scapegoat the working poor and poor. In that way they have convinced an angry, fearful, and sometimes gullible public to vote against their interests. Today, it’s profits before people -- let the “invisible hand” of the free market cure all our ills, the conservatives have always argued. Just wait: prosperity will trickle down on all of us before long.

I can tell you that I see a lot of shite trickling down, but that’s about it.

There’s a reason why America is suffering. The America my uncle grew up in put peopleAmerica we live in now idolizes the market, putting market concerns over the concerns of the people. before profits. The

In my uncle’s America 35% of working people were union members who got a living wage, health insurance, and pensions. These union benefits lifted all boats because they set the standard for employment; for every union job, there was a nonunion job with similar pay and benefits (meaning that about 70% of the American workforce back then could raise a family on a single paycheck).

That America has disappeared. The minimum wage is not a living wage. Workers are now expected to pay for their own health insurance and their own retirement. Pension plans are disappearing -- 30,000 General Motor employees lost theirs in 2005 -- and despite the hard evidence showing its dangers, there’s continuing talk of privatizing Social Security. The “less government” ideologues have ripped apart the safety nets, and the results are that the middle class is shrinking. The rich are once again getting richer, and the poor and working poor and middle class are getting poorer:

The adjusted average annual pay of a CEO went from $7,773,000 to $9,600,000 from 2002 to 2004. At the same time, the adjusted median annual household income went down from $46,058 to $44,389. In other words, ordinary people’s (the “Joe six-packs”) incomes went down by &1,669 while CEO pay went up by $1,827,000.

Over the period of 2001 to 2005, America has lost 2,818,000 manufacturing jobs. If you don’t count jobs produced by the military/ industrial complex (aka welfare for the rich), the number of private sector jobs during that time decreased by 1,160,000.

While it is true that large employers offer a traditional pension, that number is down from 91% two decades ago, and it’s dropping fast as more companies freeze pensions and turn instead to 401(k)s. Before the current financial meltdown, only 6% of Americans working in the private sector could rely on a defined pension, and 76% of Baby Boomers said they don’t think they are prepared to meet their retirement expenses.

Today only 60% of employers provide health care to their employees. As of 2004, more than 45 million Americans were without health insurance.

But I don’t think you need the numbers because you probably already know someone who has been forced out of the middle class. Maybe you know someone who was displaced after the dot com crash and never got her job back. After intermittent employment, she’s thinking of becoming a housecleaner at a fraction of her former salary.

Or maybe you know a recent college graduate holding down three part-time jobs, but doesn’t make enough to pay for his own apartment and has no health insurance.

How can this be?

Why do people go hungry in America? Why is that people like you and me work long, hard hours and still cannot afford to become sick, cannot buy houses and cannot send our kids to college?

What happened to the middle class?

These are economic questions but the answers are about who we are as a country.



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