Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let's get real here

By now it is obvious to everyone that the Republican Party is playing politics with the economy. They are trying to use the current crisis to break the United Auto Workers Union, putting ideology over the good of the nation. No big surprise. Union busting is a favorite pastime of theirs, and has been since hero Ronald Regan busted the Air Traffic Controller's union. The destruction of the UAW, America's largest union, has long been a policy goal of the far right. The hypocrites court union voters by appealing to traditional social values, and then turn around and stab them in the back by attacking the values that matter most to union members--their paychecks, health care, and retirement. The Republicans have never tried to hide the fact that they think workers should have no rights, that they are little more than wage slave who should shut up and stop whining about fair pay and health care.

And at Christmas, no less. Forget the fact that the Union has made unheard of concessions, that they took over health care from the auto companies, and that they have reopened their existing contracts to help out in this time of crisis. The republicans don't want workers to be partners in the recovery of the auto industry. They want workers to shut up and get back in their places and be grateful they have a job at all.

Awhile back I wrote that their would be a stalemate because the right elephants would want a bankruptcy and the donkey would try to prevent it, and I have unfortunately been proven true. The republicans know that Nietzsche was right, and that out of chaos comes order. They know that the total disintegration of the auto industry will mean more than a million people out of work, thousands more foreclosed homes, huge spikes in violent crime, domestic crime, and drug crime in the Midwest, and absolute total economic meltdown for the rest of America. They also know that such destruction provides opportunity for the vultures and speculators to come in and pick over the carcass of the auto industry, only without the bothersome problem of paying fair wages or giving workers health care or pensions. The crash of the UAW, the right hopes, could be a death blow to organized labor in general. Nothing would make them happier than to finally undo the last remnants of the New Deal and kill the AFL-CIO: never mind the fact that it was Unions, along with the New Deal, that created the American Middle Class. Their ideal world is a small American upper class, a huge pool of cheap labor to draw from, and what opportunities that exist for people to move up the economic ladder are limited to highly risky entrepreneurial ventures. In other words, they want us to be a third world country. It will be disastrous for society but great for profits and the bottom line.

And those UAW Pensions! It's such a burden on business for them to help make sure their workers are taken care of when they retire. If they can manage it they ant to do away with pensions entirely. That has been another part of their goal, to replace pensions, which have a defined benefit, with 401K's, which have a defined contribution. 401Ks and IRAs give them and the hedge-fund managers more money to play with, driving up stock prices and enriching themselves. But as people who are retiring right now are finding out, they have no guaranteed payout, and if you retire in the middle of an economic downturn or recession, well, tough luck. It's dog food for you till your kids put you in a home that your social security payments will cover. But so long as the money mangers can continue to buy their yachts and hire Billy Joel to sing at their daughters sweet sixteen parties, who cares?

So the republicans are playing politics with the economy in order to destroy the UAW and, ideally for them, unions in general: driving profits up, enriching stock brokers, and kicking a lot of old people to the curb in the process.


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