A NEW CROP OF WRATHFUL GRAPES
Yesterday, the Auto Bailout fell to its dismal death, as Republican Congressmen attached strings to the process like children with a can of Silly String. Those strings involved a strange battle that has been going on for the past eight years, a battle between the Republican Party and the Unions.
For some reason, Republicans hate Unions, probably because most Union Members are Democrats. Unions have grown to be huge enterprises and some of them have been infiltrated by the Mafia, investing in Casinos and other lucrative businesses not connected to their workforce. Yet, despite all this, Unions have brought about better wages and better lifestyles for their members. Before Unions, workers were at the mercy of their employers for wages, working conditions and treatment. Unions brought an end to these practices, so that men could not be fired simply because his boss took a dislike to his color, his age, or any other unfair reason; so that grease and smoke in the vicinity of the workforce was cleaned up and limited; so that workers would be rotated throughout many jobs, rather than spend eight to twelve dreary hours screwing in one bolt as the car bodies traveled down the Assembly Lines. Above all, they negotiated wages, health care and pensions.
Today, the Auto Bailout is dead in the water. Attached to the Bailout Bill was a stipulation that worker's wages.....Union members' wages...be dropped to the same level as workers in foreign auto plants. I think this wage hovers, in United States' foreign plants, at $14.00 an hour. Heaven knows what pittance it may be in the foreign plants in China or India.
People like Rush Limbaugh, trumpeting his message of daily hatred for "liberals," have pictured autoworkers as lazy, overpaid dilettantes. Auto workers have been on the Limbaugh List of hateful rhetoric, along with Blacks, Latinos, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, the Poor, Global Warming, Nancy Pelosi, all Union Members, the ACLU, Deregulation of any kind, environmental measures, ad nauseum. Rush would like to see a world of humble robots making poverty wages, kissing the plump asses of their privileged employers, and sending their kids to Jesus Camp in order to learn how to kill Muslims properly, while he enjoys his multi-million dollar salary and occasional trips to the White House to indulge in a few capsules of Oxycontin in the Lincoln Bedroom!
The truth is, to make this small amount of money in the United States would lower an American family into the status of poverty. How can anyone live on this amount if they have a family, a home, and a car with which to travel back and forth to work? Most car payments are several hundred dollars monthly. Most house payments in Michigan hover close to or over $1,000 monthly, and those unfortunate enough to have fallen for the Balloon Payment ripoff have even higher payments. Even if a family rents a home or an apartment, the costs are appalling. Add to that the price of food, fuel and other living expenses, and it is easy to see that what the Republicans have done is try to lower the Union members into poverty.
This was decided by Republican members of Congress who make thousands and thousands in their paychecks, plus health care, plus generous pensions and, if things get tight, vote themselves raises. It is obscene!
One Republican man appeared on CNN and voiced his fear that there would be riots if the Bailout Bill were to be passed. Rioting by Republicans? What a wonderful thought! They could get a taste of the Lasers shooting them down, being clubbed by police, herded into roped off areas and treated like criminals! They are mighty fond of this action if other people demonstrate. Perhaps they would like to try it.
Salaries at GM and other auto plants make up only 10% of their expenditures. Most of their money goes to suppliers, to various plants throughout the country that make the parts for our automobiles. Union Workers are not rich. They are hard-workers who have hauled themselves out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to work, or worked the midnight shift until dawn. They generally work for companies headed by CEO's who make millions annually, plus bonuses, plus stock options. Why aren't the Republicans rioting because of the CEO's in this country that make such obscene profits?
The Banking Bailout, of $700 Billion, was handed out without a single Republican riot. No one suggested that the Cashiers, the Bank Personnel, lower their wages to some $14 hourly. Much of that Bailout has been handed out in CEO salaries and bonuses for executives, even in luxurious trips for these executives, including golfing vacations and stays in lush resorts, all disguised as Sales trips. $700 Billion handed out to these jokers, but $25 Billion to keep GM, Ford and Chrysler alive would cause Republican riots! It's laughable!
The ramifications of this debacle will reach across the country. If these companies declare Bankruptcy, from three to ten million American jobs will go down the drain. There will be no pensions for these people. There will be no Health Care for these people. Their only hope will be Unemployment Benefits and Food Lines. Many of them will lose their homes, thus adding to the lists of the Homeless. The cost to the government will be much, much greater than the $25 Billion Bailout that was offered.
One has the feeling that the Republicans, who have thankfully become a minority, would be delighted to see the American people reduced to penury, tethering a goat in the yard for milk, dressed in self-woven straw hats as they work in their gardens for food, their snot-nosed, flea-ridden children stealing apples from fruit markets, their wives on a street corner offering their bodies in exchange for a bag of potatoes. One wonders if this situation would send Republicans into fits of glee, their purpose fulfilled, falling to their knees to thank their fierce and violent God for his blessings!
All across the country companies are reducing their workforces. Every day more workers are laid off, more misery has overtaken our land. These past eight years of governance have reduced our country to a mockery of its former affluence. If General Motors, Chrysler and Ford collapse, the number of people out of work will be multiplied many times over! What kind of person would support this? What kind of person would take pleasure in ruining the lives of even more people in a land filled with desperation and misery?
Years ago, Herbert Hoover tried the same kind of Trickle Down and Deregulation nonsense. It took Franklin Roosevelt to lead the country back to glory. Republicans have tried to rewrite history, but that is the literal truth. Roosevelt opened up jobs, started mammoth projects that allowed people to work and families to eat! Years later, he led the country through a vicious, brutal War, a real war, not a planned, plotted and peddled "mistake."
Detroit helped win that War! Almost overnight, the factories making cars were running three shifts making tanks, guns, jeeps and other war material. Women joined the workforce, which gave birth to the popular Rosie, the Riveter. We did not go into debt to fight that war. The people themselves invested in it by purchasing War Bonds. We did not borrow from China, but lent money to many of our Allies. We emerged from that War as a Super Power. We emerge from the War in Iraq with our heads lowered in shame, a broken, indebted nation!
Let's hope that Obama can do the same as Roosevelt as he faces an empty Treasury and millions of bereft people. Perhaps another Steinbeck will show up and write an equivelent to the Grapes of Wrath, as people wander the country looking for work, desperate for food. In the meantime, our government will pay George Bush his pension and welcome him into his million dollar Dallas home. Does crime pay, after all? Are the wages of sin a new retirement home? We are paying dearly for the "mistakes" of George W. Bush and his bevy of radical loyalists. If we survive the disaster that faces us, we must always recall certain events, the brutalities of the Holocaust, the indignation of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, and the looting of our country by George W. Bush and his radical supporters. We must never, ever forget, never, ever let this happen to our country again!