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The Lie Behind “Cultural Marxism” and a message to foolish Republican Nativists

In Current Events, Economics, History on July 29, 2011 at 18:12

The term “Cultural Marxism” is used in an attempt keep fear of communism alive and well. It’s not just that people use the term to describe the abhorrent practices like the cultural revolution in China that killed millions of people, it is a term used to attack multiculturalism in the United States.

Like the nativist movements throughout U.S. history that fought to keep the nation pure, meaning White or Northern European (but not Irish), discussions of Cultural Marxism use fear to rile up the poor working class Whites against the impure elements. The historical list of the impure starts with the Irish, then Germans, Southern Europeans, Chinese and today it’s Mexicans and Muslims that are the targets of their ire.

Nativists will use all sorts of logical fallacies to promote this fear. Nativists argue that immigrants are hostile to the native culture and the immigrants presence ruins their “purity of essence”. However, there is no evidence of cross contamination between recent immigrant cultures and White Europeans that hasn’t been mutually beneficial or at the least, accepted by the dominant White culture. Whites don’t complain when they eat Chinese food or enjoy cheap lettuce and strawberries picked by Mexican and Central American labor; it is only during times of economic crisis or when the most recent immigrants start to succeed and move into previously White (or other powerful ethnic ghetto) dominate areas that they became perceived as threats to the White, Christian, Anglo Saxon culture.

When there is a precipitous rise in the population of a new immigrant group, the dominant group will work to exclude these immigrants using legal means and pass laws against them such as The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the recently passed SB 1070 in Arizona that allows racial profiling at traffic stops. Detentions of legal and illegal immigrants is also prevalent today in Arizona, as it was during the a time of great Chinese immigration of the late 19th Century.  And when legal means to exclude immigrants don’t work, extra-legal means such as arson, lynching, threats and murder will be tried as in the case of burning of Black churches in the South, the attacks on the Labor Party in Norway for supporting immigration and attacks on Muslims in the United States.

“…nativist movements resulted at times when there were major social, economic, or political upheavals taking place in the U.S. It was at these times American nativists would blame recent arriving immigrants or ethnic/religious groups different from their own for the troubles that America was experiencing. As a result, it was not uncommon for racist attitudes to develop against these scapegoats.”  (link)

So when times are tough, working class Whites and other poor look for scapegoats for their troubles. The most recent immigrants have less political and economic power and are thus easier targets for discriminatory laws passed as a reaction to fear. Ultimately, these tactics are used by powerful political and economic elites not because the elites fear immigrants, but as a tool to keep the poor fighting each other. It’s a distraction technique that gets the elite’s staunchest allies, the Republicans, elected.  What Republicans won’t mention when passing racist laws is that large corporations use immigrants, illegal and legal, for cheap labor in this nation. So while they decry immigration using nativist language and decry the “Cultural Marxism” of groups that might accept and aid recent immigrants, they use immigrant labor to keep labor costs down and increase profits. And many poor Whites join in the chorus to attack those who came to this country to better their lives like most of our ancestors did.

Why can’t conservatives who don’t like the culture in the United States be like punk rockers in England of the seventies and create their own culture? The fact is, Christian conservatives do, and they have nothing to fear of from us non-conservative, non-fear inducing multiculturalists. Quite the opposite. Like Anders Behring Breivik who killed dozens of people in Norway,  some who rail against this Cultural Marxism will use violence to make their point. The Klu Klux Klan, World Church of the Creator, Hal Turner, and Aryan Nations 88 among some 1,002 such documented hate groups in the United States.

While much of the recent up-tic in hate groups has been fueled by a rise in Mexican immigration, another factor is the election of the first African-American President in the United States. The Souther Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the U.S., writes, Since 2000, the number of hate groups has increased by 54 percent. This surge has been fueled by fears of Latino immigration and, more recently, by the election of the country’s first African-American president and the economic crisis.” (link) Threats of violence by these hate groups is justified on the grounds of defense of culture and the Christian way of life. It is further promoted by the ignorant ramblings of right-wing bloggers and journalists.

Conservative writers use meaningless code words to scare their readers into joining their cause against the immigrant. Linda Kimball wrote in 2007 on the site American Thinker that, “…the New Left lacked cohesion it fell apart as a political movement.  However, its revolutionaries reorganized themselves into a multitude of single issue groups.  Thus we now have for example, radical feminists, black extremists, anti-war ‘peace’ activists, animal rights groups, radical environmentalists, and ‘gay’ rights groups.  All of these groups pursue their piece of the radical agenda through a complex network of organizations such as the Gay Straight Lesbian Educators Network (GSLEN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the American Way, United for Peace and Justice, Planned Parenthood, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and Code Pink for Peace.” (link)

Ever noticed that conservatives can’t just write the word “feminist” without the term “radical” attached to it? But I digress. Ms. Kimball is against gay rights, peace, sexuality, justice, and civil liberties. She lists well recognized, evil organizations that promote multiculturalism and she does not need to explain to her audience what is bad about them. Working for equal rights of immigrants and minorities is a scary and “radical” agenda. It is understood in the ultra conservative sphere that groups that don’t live by a White, Christian agenda are all evil. The blogger on right wing websites such a FreeRepublic and Red State Reader use code words like “feminist”, “liberal”, “socialist”, “peace” to signify that these groups are working against their culture and are “Cultural Marxists”. Explaining the actual problems these organizations pose to our society would involve work, and you know how conservatives are lazy and aren’t willing to do the intellectual work to make a logical, cogent argument, right? They just want to live off the hard work of liberals online such as us.

Another great technique is demonstrated in the article by Ms. Kimball, guilt by association. If Ms. Kimball can compare the organizations listed, those working for the rights of Americans, to Soviet Communists, then her job is done. Most of us would agree that Soviet style communism was bad, and thus, these organizations must be bad as well because they are communist. It is easy to get people to fear all social programs when they are not educated in the difference between the Soviets and Social Security.

Many of these hard core cultural conservatives ask, “Who stole our culture?” Well, no one, really. (link)

If you live in a traditionally conservative family, you have the right to go to church, to watch conservative, Christian appropriate television programming, and to read the Bible and related literature. Christian culture is a available everywhere, from the Internet, to the Christian Broadcasting Network, to gospel records, Sunday Sermons on television and in churches all over American, cruises for Christians, Christian singles clubs, and so forth.

So, you don’t like Harry Potter and its promotion of witch craft. Then don’t read the books or watch the movies. I don’t like the religiosity of the Chronicles of Narnia, so I don’t watch the movies nor read the books. No one is forcing their culture on anyone. Culture happens organically, and in our market dominated economy, what sells is what become predominate in the media. Thus, Lady Gaga is a big part of the mainstream culture, like her or not. Evangelical and far-right conservatives want to promote free markets and free speech, until it leads to speech they don’t like.

There are a lot of media from television programs with gay characters to songs that sing about oral sex, that some Christians find objectionable. And yes, they are ubiquitous. But how can you really test your faith if you aren’t tempted? What about the tribulations that the Bible says all Christians must go through?

I don’t like all the war propaganda  in the news and in movies, but I mostly ignore it. It’s called freedom of speech, and it’s part of the United States. If you want to live in a theocracy, Saudi Arabia and Iran would gladly accept you, if you become Muslim. Or get into your time machine and go back to the 12th Century and join the crusades where you can kill for God and country.

Attack the poor and minorities as you are told and be a loyal foot soldier for the United States elites that would just as well see you die as prosper. Or you can put down your sword, love thy neighbor, and get on with your life.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Every Day, I’m More Gay

In Current Events, Humor on July 25, 2011 at 18:11

Ever since Ellen Degeneres got married in 2008, I have felt the gayness creep up on me. If teachers can promote sexuality in the class room, imagine what a hot gyrating Ellen Degeneres can do to our innocent young girls and promote gay, man on man, sex.

No matter how matter times I read the passage from Leviticus 20:13, “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads”,  I feel more and more gay with every passing day. I, of course, blame liberals.

Like the destruction of a horcrux, each gay marriage makes me weaker. And it’s gotten worse with the marriages in New York pushing me to the edge.

I try to think of my role models in the heterosexual community, Ronald Reagan (twice married), Newt Gingrich (thrice married), and Mark Foley, a good family man who was entrapped into sending sexual emails to male interns for ten years, but has of course repented to god and thus is my hero. And let’s not forget the writer of Cat Scratch Fever  and arch-conservative, Ted Nugent. “He has had two wives and has eight children, including three out of wedlock in two liaisons almost 30 years apart.” If Ted Nugent can’t keep me straight, no one can.

But nothing has worked. I realized that the “gay life style” that I am supposed to be afraid of has been creeping up on me my whole life. One of the first albums I bought as a child was by Elton John. Imagine my surprise when just a couple of years ago I learned that he had married, a man! But that must be his former wife’s fault, right ladies?   If you can’t keep your man straight, you are not running a true Christian household.

Then I learned from rapper Ja Rule that MTV promotes homosexuality. I watched that station way back when it exclusively played music videos. My crush on early VJ Julie Brown must have been my attempt to cover as straight. I see it all now; love of music is gay.

Then another shocking revelation came my way when I learned that Freddy Mercury was a gay man the whole time I was listening to his music and watching his videos, on MTV! Imagine a band named “Queen” having homosexual members in it. Who would have known?

The latest signs I’m turning gay are frightening. One horrific sign is that I watched the Tony Awards, and I enjoyed it! Yes, I know Broadway is not just for gays any more, but it’s the gayt way drug to homosexuality. And I didn’t vomit at the sight of Neil Patrick Harris as all straight men should.

If that doesn’t prove I’m coming under the influence of gays and becoming more tolerant, I don’t know what does. But there’s hope for all of us who might become gay despite what a passage in a book of fiction written over two-thousand years ago and re-written multiple times to suit the political ambitions of the rich and powerful says is damnation.

First, we have the Bachman family to save us. If all is lost, I can go to Marcus Bachman, the husband of Michelle Bachman, for help. He has written about the homosexual agenda, to entertain us into being gay, and councils Christians on being straight. l He knows how harmful being gay can be for people like him who hate themselves. He knows that if you are going to fight being gay, you must learn to scorn homosexuality irrationally.

If it gets bad, I can move to Colorado Springs and join excommunicated Ted Haggard in his new church. Sure, he was kicked out of his ministry after he solicited sex from a male prostitute, but he has repented. I need the kind of role model that can break their own tenets, sin, and still come out smelling like less than shit. I am sure Haggard will help me so I don’t stray too far.

Thank god that there are plenty of people that ignore psychiatric and medical findings and think that homosexuality is an illness. Thus, there are plenty of places I can go to “remove the inclination for same sex attraction for LGBT people through talking.”

There are also many Catholic, Christian and other orthodox churches from Jewish to Islamic that condemn homosexuality, so I can always go to one of these if I feel gay and need to be put in my place. Better yet, I could move to Saudi Arabia where I could be arrested for showing signs of gayness. Now that’s a deterrent.

With role models, social deterrents, and god’s help, I might pull through and remain as people say god intended, despite the cuteness of Neil Patrick Harris.

Good link that debunks reparative therapy and warns us of the dangers:

http://www.menstuff.org/issues/byissue/therapy-reparative.html

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Obama Dismisses Progressives, Again

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on July 20, 2011 at 01:13

It is true that President Obama’s term in office began during the worst economic downturn in the United States in more than seventy-five years. It is also true that the President inherited two wars along with ecological problems, energy dependency, a health insurance crisis, and a massive deficit. So what happened with President Obama and the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress? He negotiated his way to mediocrity.

Let’s assume that President Obama is a moderate Democrat with some liberal ideas. One liberal idea that Obama once said he supported was single payer health care. So why after he became President, did he start the health care debate by saying that “single payer is off the table”?  Even the people selling things in pawn stores know that you don’t give away too much before the negotiations begin.

Obama didn’t push for single payer health care at all. He backed down before the discussion started. What’s the worst that could have happened? What if Obama had supported the single payer bill pushed by progressive Democrats and the Republicans and Conservative Democrats had rejected it? After it failed, he could have gone to his back up position, a public option. He would have looked like the compromiser instead of the capitulator, and he would have honored progressives by at least putting his support behind their bill. Even if he had changed his mind, he would have backed up his earlier statements and pleased a huge part of his base. But President Obama started out in a weak position by not pushing single payer first. The argument on whether Obama still supports single payer health care can be had elsewhere.

Another rebuff of progressives was keeping the Bush era tax cuts. The Republicans were holding unemployment hostage, among other things, and so Obama felt compelled to continue the Bush era tax cuts for those making over $250,000. Also at the end of 2010, as Obama backed down on ending the tax cuts thus giving more money to those that had enough already, he called for a freeze in pay to all federal workers. Now I know some Democrats find a freeze in pay while funding the wealthy fine and dandy, to give more money to those who don’t need it and then freeze salaries on working families, but as you can imagine, this angered quite a few progressives who had expected that Obama would fulfill this promise. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that didn’t take any Congressional action for the tax cuts were set to expire on January 1st, 2011. And, it would have happened before the new Republican dominated House took office on January 6th. Instead of calling on the top bracket to pay their share, Congress and the White House would have to find another way to balance the budget; for example, cuts to social programs like education and health care.

Ignoring the progressive caucus’s People’s Budget is another slight to progressives among dozens. The People’s Budget is more fiscally sound than any other budget proposal in the offing. And of course, Obama doesn’t want to taut it over his own tepid budget, although his is miles better than the Ryan plan.

The latest slight to progressives is ignoring the pleas to nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the agency she help create, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Obama has received tens of thousands of letters supporting her nomination, but to no avail.

Obama’s reasons for not choosing Warren comes down to the same old conceit; he can’t win. Again, when Obama has a chance to make his case and embarrass the Republican party for their narrow pursuit of protecting the interests of the banks before the people, he echews the opportunity.

Republicans have stated clearly that they wouldn’t accept any nomination for this post. There will be a fight, regardless of the nominee. So why back down from your first choice? Is it because Obama doesn’t respect nor care about what the progressives in his party think?

As David Lazarus makes clear in the LA Times, it wasn’t about Warren. Republicans won’t pick anyone for the agency the way it is constituted. “But in my chats with agency insiders, it was similarly clear that the real fight wasn’t about Warren. It was about a demand from the banking industry and its GOP cronies that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be run by a five-person board rather than a single director.” (ibid)

So why not please the progressives for a change and support her nomination, especially if all nominations to this post will be summarily rejected by Republicans?

As one insider added,  “”Obama doesn’t look good not standing up for Warren. The agency was her idea. She’s done all the hard work. This seems like a slap in the face to Warren.””

Lazarus continues, “And now, despite the harsh lessons of the mortgage meltdown and repeated bailouts of reckless and rapacious Wall Street firms, the GOP is stubbornly attempting to cripple a new agency charged with overseeing credit cards, mortgages, payday loans and other financial products that are easily abused by businesses.”

The good news is that Obama vows to fight! I’d laugh if I wasn’t crying.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The Language of Shared Sacrifice

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on July 16, 2011 at 21:14

President Obama has been using the term “shared sacrifice” in an effort to get Republicans to compromise with him over the budget. Obama is asking for more revenue in tax increases and closure of some tax loopholes for corporations and the upper 1%, and the Republicans, in general, want cut to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.

So, Obama said that he will meet the Republicans part way and discuss cuts if Republicans are willing to raise revenues, i.e. raise some taxes. The President calls for “shared sacrifice.” Although giving more in taxes when you can afford it seems less of a sacrifice than losing your health care or job or being unable to pay your heating costs in winter, the “GOP say they’ve sacrificed enough already on debt negotiations.”

What has the GOP really sacrificed? To sacrifice, you have to have something to give up. The Republicans are so bound to a failed ideology called “trickle down economics” that they think it is a sacrifice to reconsider these policies. Just voting for an increase in the debt ceiling is considered a “shared sacrifice” by what Republicans call their “leadership.”

Yes, voting to keep the United States from defaulting on debt payments and avoiding thousands of layoffs is a sacrifice for many Republicans. It’s a lot to give up, having to help unworthy public and private sector workers.

Yes, helping avoid a down grade in the U.S. credit rating and raising the cost of the current debt is a “sacrifice”. And of course, helping the United States retain it’s place as a nation to invest in, as one of the world’s leading economies is a big sacrifice. It’s too hard for Republicans to sacrifice so much to make sure the economy is stable.

How about getting those that so far have sacrificed nothing during the recession to sacrifice their share? The banks, investment houses, most of Wall Street, CEOs, the Koch brothers, oil companies, most of Congress, and so on should now “sacrifice” for a while so that the unemployed, homeless, jobless, uninsured, and destitute don’t have to sacrifice more.

Obama’s logic is faulty. To say we need “shared sacrifice” it to argue that all parties have the same to lose. To say we need “shared sacrifice” is to ignore how much we and so many of our fellow citizens have sacrificed in lost pensions, homes and savings so a few money managers could make millions on credit default swaps and betting against our economy by buying stocks in these swaps on margin.

Who suffers more, a CEO who fails to get a bonus because of a poor economy but still gets his/her million plus dollar salary, or the millions of workers who have lost their jobs since 2008?

Who suffers more, Exxon/Mobil or the people who can’t afford their pain medication due to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid?

Who suffers more, GE (and other corporations) who may no longer be able to avoid all taxes in the future, or the ever growing number of people who live in poverty?

President Obama needs to stop compromising with those that only have the interests of billionaires in mind when discussing the debt ceiling and start shaming them for their arrogance and their failed ideology. And please President Obama, stop using the misleading and disingenuous phrase, “shared sacrifice”.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The NEA Endorses a less worse Enemy in President Obama

In Current Events, Election Politics on July 7, 2011 at 18:48

Facing the reality of Republican hatred of unions and teachers, the National Education Association Representative Authority voted July 4th to endorse Barack Obama for reelection, 5,414 to 2,102. http://www.counterpunch.org/gibson07052011.html In the past, the NEA made its presidential endorsement the year of the election, but this time felt compelled to call for an endorsement a year early.
What was in it for the largest teachers union in the nation? It’s not as if Obama has been a strong ally and supporter of teachers and their unions since becoming president. President Obama voiced support Monday for the mass firings of educators at a failing Rhode Island school”  where the school superintendent fired all 93 teachers and other staff in the small Central Fall district, the poorest district in the state. “”If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn’t show signs of improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of accountability,” he said.” (ibid) Instead of looking at the validity of the tests, the methods of teaching, the poverty level of the area, and other factors, Obama just outright supports the superintendent over the teachers. Obama’s unwillingness to get the facts about education and testing is a hallmark for his policies such as Race to the Top.

President Obama also supports merit based pay, a system that has been found flawed on many levels. It pits teacher against teacher and limits education funds. Merit based pay ignores the reality of schools and that every year is a new challenge for every teacher and every student. It is a way to bust unions and takes the power away from the teachers and gives it to superintendents and lawmakers.

Merit based pay also rewards teachers that can fake test scores and teach to the test. It rewards prevarication. Is this really the type of teaching we want?  Race to the Top for “Obama and his Education Secretary Arnie Duncan means more testing, more uniformity, more charter schools and more punishment for creative teachers that try to help students love learning as autonomous human beings.” (link)

In total, Obama supports summary firings of teachers, merit based pay, a high stakes testing regime that punishes teachers and takes them away from actual teaching, charter schools where teachers will be less accountability to city and state standards and not have to join a union (in essence union busting), and a competitive funding model that rewards schools for following a national dictum thus crushing local autonomy. These dictums include testing and charter schools and other union busting policies.

“IN ADDITION to these backwards priorities, Obama has presided over some of the harshest attacks on public education in decades. As education scholar Diane Ravitch has pointed out, when it comes to education, Obama’s presidency has been like Bush’s third term.” (link)

So why did the NEA endorse Obama, and why did they support him so early instead of waiting for next year? Teachers are rightfully fearful of their future under a Republican regime. They might have also learned their caving technique from the example Obama has laid forth in his capitulation to the Republicans on the budget, taxes and other issues.
So instead of holding out for something better from Obama, they reacted out of fear of a Republican nation and endorsed him early. The NEA also sees that they have flagging support amongst many Democrats (see Cuomo in New York) and wanted to get on board early to boost their national stature. (link)

So, what is in it for Obama? President Obama doesn’t need the money from the teachers. He will already be getting millions from corporations and individuals. Reuters reports that the President might surpass $1 billion this election and already has the record of over $750 million dollars for his 2008 campaign. (link) Obama doesn’t really need the teachers’ money. So what does the NEA endorsement give him?

What the endorsement does is give political cover to a president whose policies amount to union busting. Generally, teachers’ unions are liberal and many people rely on endorsements to inform their voting. “Well, if the teachers endorse him, then he’s okay with me.”  It also ensures that some union members will work for his campaign, and they can be tireless workers.

However, as one teacher/delegate put it, not all were pleased by the early endorsement, “I am a building rep for the NEA.  I actually spoke personally with about 2/3 of my unionized teachers when the early endorsement – the first such in NEA history – was proposed.  Out of the more than 80 teachers with whom I spoke only one supported the early endorsement.  Many did not like giving up what little leverage the union had with the administration.” (link)

Teachers deserve better treatment than President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Congress and state governments have been rendering. Until they realize this, they will continue to act like abused children who keep expecting one parent to stand up for them against the abusive alcoholic parent. This doesn’t mean that teachers should stop voting for and supporting Democrats, it means that they need to stop working for Democrats and others that want to take away their power, pay, autonomy and careers. It means not giving an early endorsing to a President who is not an ally.

A good class based criticism of the NEA endorsement to be found at Counterpunch.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Blame Workers at Your Own Peril

In Current Events, Economics on July 4, 2011 at 04:25

Photo courtesy of Moral Low Ground at http://morallowground.com/tag/wisconsin-protests/

If you are an owner of a business, a CEO, upper management or a Congressperson, congratulations. Otherwise, with a few exceptions, you are a worker. Whenever a worker is blamed for being lazy or greedy or the cause of the economic downturn, they are blaming you. You are being blamed for the faulty management of the economy by greedy people who don’t give a damn what happens to you and will scapegoat you for their atrocious decisions. The fallout for their mismanagement of production, loans, credit, distribution and over-reaching will land on you. And the media and far too much of the American populous buys into the blame laid on the workers.

If a worker has a bad performance record or does something immoral or illegal on the job, the worker gets fired; if corporate owners or CEOs have bad performance records or do something illegal or immoral on the job, the worker gets fired. This holds true for the history of capitalism in the United States. Even though you had nothing to do with the decisions that bankrupted your firm, you will take the hit. Even in the NBA, workers take the blame for poor management decisions.

What is happening in the NBA is what has been happening to workers in all industries for at least three decades. The owners of the thirty NBA franchises are asking for their players, the workers, to take a pay cut. The owners believe the last bargaining agreement gave too much to the players, and that is why they are losing money.

According to the NBA commissioner Bug Selig, 22 of 30 teams lost money during the last NBA season. However, the data the owners use to “prove” that they are losing money is questionable. For the moment, let’s say that despite making over 4.3 billion this last season, that teams have lost over $300 million as the commissioner claims. Why have they lost this money? They claim it’s due to the contracts they pay the players. However, the owners agreed to pay these contracts.

What player wouldn’t take the extra money if it were offered them? “Sorry Mr. James (LeBron). We suddenly realized that we overpaid you by 40%, and we want $5.8 million of that $14.5 million contract back.” Good luck with that. Are movie producers going to ask big stars to give money back after their movie flops? “Sorry Mr. Hanks, you have to give back that $5 million we paid you for the movie. As for that percentage of the profits we promised you? There is no profit. The NBA owners agreed to the outrageous contracts and salaries for the players and if they can’t make a profit, it’s not the fault of the players.

In other industries the workers have it far worse. At least most of the NBA players have made millions doing something they like, and even if they do take a 40% pay cut, the average salary to throw a ball around a gym will be $2.88 million. That’s not bad at all. But workers in other industries are losing benefits, hours and jobs, much of it due to rotten management decisions.

In 2007, the U.S. auto industry was about to collapse and many people were blaming the workers’ pay and pensions for this. (Watch the Video) But the workers were not designing the cars that didn’t sell, and Toyota was doing well opening plants in the U.S. What was the difference? One can make a an argument that worker’s compensation is a huge challenge for U.S. automakers. However, it’s not current compensation that is cause of the financial trouble.

Part of the problem is that the compensation to retired workers at the big three automakers raises the average cost of compensation to oft quoted $70 and hour rate. But that includes ALL compensation to ALL workers, current and retired. Foreign companies now operating in the U.S. don’t have that pool of retired workers U.S. manufacturers promised to take care of.  In addition, the big three agreed to these contracts when there was little competition from abroad. Current workers are not to blame for management’s lack of foresight.
And do we really want to “race to bottom” as Bob Herbert of the New York Times put it, and punish those that worked 20 plus years making automobiles when the big three were really big?

Do we want to sink all boats when it means that what would come next is the lowering of everyone’s salaries or even the dream of many Republicans, including Michelle Bachmann, an end to the minimum wage?

“Life before minimum wage” is a great book project for a full time journalist like Naomi Klein to take up, but if you want a glimpse of it, read The Shame of the Cities for starters. If you want poverty statistics to be even worse and more money for billionaires, please, let’s get rid of the minimum wage. It’s already NOT a living wage. Without a minimum wage, we would have a killing wage.

Another big cost for the automakers, and other companies, is health care. Obama and the Democratic Congress made a weak stab at reducing these costs and we will see how it turns out in a couple of years when the Affordable Health Care for America Act comes into affect (2014). But the workers have nothing to do with the rising health care costs. They don’t manage HMOs or insurance companies and don’t control costs of the care that is included in their contracts. This is true for all workers, not just those in the auto industry.

Autoworkers also didn’t order the SUVs that the American public stopped buying after the rise in gas prices around 2007. But the workers take the blame when the CEOs of these companies make bad decisions and then fly private jets to ask for bailouts.

In 2007, the year before bailout negotiations, the CEOs of GM and Chrysler were paid $14.4 million and $21.7 million consecutively, not counting other forms of compensation such as stock and bonuses. (link) According to the article and sources there in, the head of Ford was paid $1 and money based on performance. And all three big three CEOs did promise to take $1 on the books after getting a bailout from us. At least these companies have been losing money, and one obvious and easy place to look for savings is payroll.

Companies that laid off the most workers since the latest recession gave out the biggest bonuses:

“A new report concludes that chief executives of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at other large U.S. companies…Each of the 50 companies examined in the report laid off at least 3,000 workers between November 2008 and April 2010…Those CEOs include HP’s Hurd, who slashed 6,400 jobs in 2009 — a year when his compensation amounted to $24.2 million.” (link)

The message is clear: to get a large bonus, you must layoff the most workers. In fact, CEO pay now is greater than before the recession. I guess they aren’t responsible for the downturn in the economy. It’s the workers’ fault.

The latest scapegoat is the public sector workers, specifically teachers. A USA today article misleadingly states that public sector workers in 41 states make more money than private sector workers. In a very limited sense, that is true. However, when you compare all salaries of public workers, many having at least a bachelor’s degree, to workers of all kinds, including low-wage workers in companies such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds and other large department stores and fast food chains, it is not a legitimate comparison. Of course those with more invested into education, on average, will make more money, on average.
If you compare levels of education, public sector workers with equal education and experience make less than their private sector peers.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research compared compensation for public and private sector workers, and unlike the faulty USA today study, factored in age and education.  They found that while the lowest paid workers in New England, public to private, Janitors in a state office say, and a Wal-Mart worker, the public sector worker makes slightly more. And it’s not exurbanite. Janitors at Harvard, for example, can’t afford to live in the Boston area and work at the prestigious university.

Moreover, if you look at professionals working in New England with four or more years of university, public to private, the public sector workers take a “wage penalty” of 13%. That means that they earn 13% less than their counterparts in the private sector with the same experience and education. So much for overpaying the public sector workers.

Then why the attack on public sector workers? First, it scores points with the under and uneducated base of the Republican party while also scoring points with the free marketeers who see the public sector interfering with their profits. The lower wages are for everyone, the better they feel. These two groups dominate the Republican Party where much of this attack on the public sector comes from.

Take Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, please. Governor Walker wants public sector workers to give up their collective bargaining rights under the guise of state deficits. But the right to collectively bargain has nothing to do with deficits. Wisconsin was even looking at a surplus before Walker gave a round of corporate tax cuts to his friends. And once Walker was able to give those tax breaks to corporations, he had to get the money somewhere. So he went after the enemies of the Republicans, the workers, specifically those in the public sector.

Obviously, it is an attempt the bust the unions during a time of crisis while taking down a major supporter of the Democrats. And while unions, the membership and their supporters are putting their efforts into the push back against union busting, CEOs and the elite are garnering more compensation for themselves and paying less in taxes.
There is a two-fold genius in this Republican lead attack on workers in the United States. First, if Republicans and other free marketeers can get workers bickering with each other, then they are easier to manipulate. With workers divided, the corporate elite and their lackeys in Congress can easily defeat their opposition. Second, if you can bust or weaken the unions then a major barrier to total corporate control will be less of a factor.

So, keep calling Republican workers fascists and haters and keep attacking liberal workers over abortion and for being socialist and see where that gets you. You are playing right into the hands of the bourgeoisie. Or, you can go after the Corporodems and the Koch brother’s drones and others who are attacking workers. How about supporting workers against cuts to hard-earned pay and benefits instead? Abortion and god and climate change and gay marriage and Islamophobia are only distractions from the class warfare the wealthy are waging against all U.S. citizens.

Watch Noam Chomsky go after the Corporodems, Obama and others.

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Peace,
Tex Shelters

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