By David Haggith, the Great Recession Blog.
Republicans have a plan to help workers out because they hear you after all the clamor that is forming around Donald Trump. That is how they bill it anyway — a plan to help laborers. They have heard through their marble walls that some of you are not happy with wages that have been stagnant for decades. So, they have hatched brave new plan.
Are you ready?
Their creative plan is to make it illegal for unions to withhold union dues automatically “so that you have more money in your paycheck.” That’s it. Boost your pay by stripping as much back from unions as they can. It is the best they can do.
Never mind that unions are the only thing that might give you enough unified strength to get your pay or benefits improved against cost-slashing corporations. Never mind that your pay stopped going up as soon as Reagan started breaking unions. That’s right. That is when pay stagnated while corporate profits soared … unless you were working in upper management where you pay soared.
What the Republicans call “the Employee Right Act” is just another disembowelment of unions to make sure that the corporate execs and stockholders continue to get the lion’s share of the revenue. How else will they pay for their bonuses and dividends and buy back the company’s own stocks in order to inflate the value of their stock-options package?
Now, some of you hate unions. I can understand that because unions have used a lot of their own evil tactics to coerce membership. I used to hate unions, too, because of all their goldbricking; but it’s a well established historic fact that — corrupt as they have sometimes been — they are the only thing that forced up wages, working conditions and benefits for decades. Even non-union shops only paid more in many cases because they had to match or beat union shops in order to keep the unions out.
The Heritage Foundation has a plan for you
Steve Moore, a visiting fellow of Heritage Foundation, is concerned that union leaders are getting rich and fat off these dues. Maybe they are, but corporate executives also get rich and fat when there are no union leaders.
According to Moore, “The ERA puts the GOP firmly on the side of working-class Americans and higher pay. (“Stephen Moore: Republicans Can Give Workers a $1 Billion Pay Raise“) You see, they are not formulating their plan for the sake of helping their rich constituents — the one percenters who back both parties. No, they are doing it to put a billion dollars in your pocket. They are glad to do that since it is money they cannot tax and since all of that money goes to people who campaign against the wealthy corporate bosses who own the politicians.
If you’re going to give money back to the proletariate, do it by stripping it from unions that seek to diminish the take of the one-percenters. Do it by taking money from the one area that MIGHT in the long run help workers get more money for their labor because it is most important that we keep the wealthy rich so the workers have something to aspire toward.
Seems the only plan establishment Republicans can ever come up with to help labor and improve wages is a plan that helps the establishment, such as giving tax breaks to stock investors. They repeat inanely that those investors are the “job creators” until people believe it is true because it has been said so many times. True, they are the job creators … in Mexico … in China … in India where they moved all of their factories.
The “entitlement” trap
Have you noticed that governments, whether they are run by Democrats or Republicans, have no problem with underfunding their employee retirement plans? The only thing that stands in their way is government employee unions. The citizens of those governments (municipal, county and state) had no problem deriving the benefits of new roads and parks, etc., off the backs of government employees, and many of those government employees only took such jobs because of the “great government benefits.”
We all knew that and all talked about how so and so that we know got a good government job with great government benefits. We probably even recommended a job like that to a friend or two: “The benefits are great, man.” We knew the benefits were the one thing that could drive our neighbors or relatives to take a government job in spite of all the red tape that comes with working for the government.
Will we now insist that our fellow citizens be treated fairly by taxing ourselves what it takes to honor those promises that we knew were being made? I doubt it. For many, those coveted government benefits have turned out to be a lie all along because governments never paid for the program as they went … always figuring some future government would deal with the problem of underfunding, but that never stopped them from continuing to hold out the promised retirement benefits.
Several states and municipalities are reporting that their pensions are grossly underfunded. Some declared bankruptcy during the Great Recession just so their citizens could escape the higher taxes that would be required to make good on the promises made to those who served them. Can you believe those nasty employees felt “entitled” to what was made as a promise of deferred gains in their retirement years if they would work below going wages at present? Greedy bastards.
I’m not talking about the wealthy people who serve at the head of local government and who sit on counsels. I’m talking about the gal who mowed your park lawns or sat in a back office drawing up sewer plans or drove the bus. I’m also not talking about the lazy four guys who stood around a hole while one guy leaned on a shovel and sometimes pretended to dig.
We all know those inefficiencies in government existed and were inexcusable, but there are many government employees in low-paying and mid-level positions who worked diligently for benefits for twenty years that they are now being deprived of just as they hit retirement. What about them?
The reason they are said to be “entitled” is because you and I already extracted the work out of them. They are entitled to the benefit because they already paid for it with their labor. Now, surprise, surprise, they want what our leaders promised them for decades. Greedy bastards.
And what about you?
The Social Security slough
Nowhere is this more true than in Social Security. Some people who talk about balancing the budget by taking the money from entitlements have forgotten that the reason they are entitled to those benefits is that it was their money in the first place! They only allowed the government to take it (and very reluctantly even then) based on the government’s pledge of good faith that the money would be there for them when they retire or become disabled.
They probably even mumbled that the money wouldn’t be there when they retired, and now here they are. Some of them are such saps they are already willing to lie down and let the government keep that money without a fight, accepting the mantra that it is bad to feel entitled to that which you created and provided in the first place.
Establishment Republicans have a similar answer to solve the federal government’s huge deficit problems. Their solution is to whittle down your retirement benefits under social security because YOU are the problem, not them. Their talking point is targeted at making anyone who expects to receive those benefits appears greedy via a concerted plan of turning “entitlement” into a dirty word.
Before you let them strip you of your dignity, try to remember that you’re “entitled” to those benefits because the money was actually yours in the first place. You’re simply entitled to get your own money back. So, talking about these “entitlement” people as if they are someone other than you and are the problem with America is the same as talking about homeowners as being the problem with real estate because they think they have a right to own the own home they’ve been paying for. If they’d just let the banks keep the home, we wouldn’t all have to bail out these miserable banks. Greedy homeowners feeling they are entitled to retire in the home they have been paying for all these years.
Politicians, however, want to use Social Security money to balance the budget that both parties have refused to balance for thirty-plus years. Republicans mostly railed against Social Security when it was created as something that was taking people’s money away and giving it to government to waste. Now they rail against those who want their money back.
The only difference between Republicans and Democrats on Social Security is that Democrats still think it is your money owed back to you (though they have no idea how to make the math work after decades of their own profligacy with the money). Republicans think the best thing to do with this money that they kept telling you you would never see once the government got it … is to make certain that you never do see it! They want to fulfill their own predictions.
In the end, who was the greater thief? The group that promised your money back but now doesn’t know how to deliver on its promise and still balance a budget they never tried to balance in the first place? Or the group who kept warning you that, once you let government get its hands on the money, you would never see it again and now wants to make certain you never do see it again?
While neither party has shown any will to actually balance the budget, they have no problem finding ways to make the wealthy wealthier. Republicans are concerned, of course, that union dues only make Democrats wealthier — the wrong people — because 90% of union political contributions go to Democrats. Is it any wonder that union contributions go mostly to Democrats when the ERA is the most creative thing the Republican-controlled congress could come up with as an answer for laborers who are finally concerned that their wages haven’t risen against inflation since 1977?
This is their best plan? Give the unions one last stab in the back so that laborers have even less strength in negotiating wages? A little candy now to deprive you of a lot more later?
You see, you’d all have jobs if you were willing to work for scrap meat. Unions are the reason people don’t have good paying jobs. They keep insisting that the jobs pay better, forcing those jobs to leave the country.
That’s how much establishment Republicans care about wage stagnation. They care enough to make certain it continues so that corporate leaders can keep inflating their overstuffed salaries and pack their golden parachutes and puff up their stock options. The Employee Rights Act is their most creative plan in years to help the flagging economy.
Now, to be sure, there is a lot of greedy entitlement thinking in this world, too — the kind where people feel entitled to assistance just because they need it or want it — but what I want to remind people of here is there is also genuine entitlement where you are entitled to something because you earned it; you provided your labor for it already; it was yours in the first place and supposedly held in trust.
You are not greedy if you demand the government provide the retirement benefit that it promised you when it took your money that you were reluctant to trust to government in the first place. So, before you let politicians strip away the retirement benefits you already put in your labor for, make certain you strip away every benefit they ever promised to themselves first. Make sure they do a lot of other things first. Don’t make it easy for them to get out of their promises by making “entitlement” a nasty word.
It’s nasty when people feel entitled to other people’s things, and apparently your politicians feel entitled to your things, which they already took from you for decades based on a pledge to give it all back. Why bend over and make it easy for them to kick you in the keister? Force them to end every entitlement of every politician alive today, especially those who have already retired, before they touch one cent of yours … for those retired politicians are the ones who made the promises in the first place.