Saturday, May 14, 2011

1890's America: A Peek at the Past You're Repeating

1890′s America: A Peek at the Past You’re Repeating

It has been said that a definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and expect a different result. While in one sense this may be considered persistence – to try, and try again – to do so against all evidence to the contrary must certainly be considered some sort of madness. Yet, despite the egregious crimes committed against the American people by Big Banks, Big Finance, Big Oil, Big Pharma and the corporate and financial elite as a whole, the American people seem determined to place even more trust in them by allowing the dissolution of organized labor out of a misplaced faith that their best interests will be taken care of by those who have just finished raping their economy.
While deregulation, corporate welfare, and an abundance of corporate and financial friendly policies have allowed a drastic disparity in wealth over the past thirty years, the onslaught against the American working class has been going on for much, much longer.
The advancements and protections that were championed on behalf of the workers of America over the past century were necessary, life saving measures. Back when people still understood that the purpose of the economy was to serve society, and not the other way around, as it is today, and before they had been completely deceived into fighting on behalf of the corporations that would enslave them and turn them into expendable commodities, a real movement had developed across America.
That movement succeeded through sacrifice of life and limb, and despite government repression and the use of the military against them. They endured incarceration and the destruction of their homes. Yet, decade by decade, their sacrifice won the eight hour day, minimum wage, sick days, the end of child labor, the right to organize, and every other labor law and standard that is now being taken for granted.
Current proposals to end the minimum wage, kill organized labor, and institute ‘right to work’ legislation will effectively abolish all of those gains that the generations that preceded us worked so hard to achieve. Once again, corporations will be in the position to treat the entire country as a ‘company town’, a plantation, where the workforce is completely disenfranchised and the corporations and financial institutions own the workers, lock, stock, and barrel.
Corporation must increase profits. This is their responsibility. They have no other purpose. The well-being and prosperity of the workers is counter to their purpose. They need to drive the cost of production, and therefore wages, employee health care, sick leave, over-time pay, safety precautions, and on and on, down. As little resources as possible will be spent on workers who will be demanded to produce as much as possible. You, and your labor, must be devalued as much as possible in order for them to achieve their goal of increased profit.
To expect that giving tax breaks to corporations will result in an increase in gainful employment is either naive of purposefully disingenuous. To expect that the removal of workers protections will be replaced by the benevolent, responsible management that provides opportunity for worker prosperity, is not only delusional, or a misguided faith in the unknown, it is directly contradictory to the proof available over the past one hundred plus years as well as what the corporations and financial institutions are saying right to your face.
Before you say ‘uncle’, and before you switch sides to become a corporate toady, read the words of those that started the fight that  won the protections about to be lost.
1890 – Mary Ellen Lease, at a convention in Topeka, Kansas:
Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street… Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags…
There are thirty men [a few hundred now] in the United States whose aggregate wealth is one and one-half billion dollars [the top 1% now hoard more wealth than the bottom 95% combined]. There are a half million looking for work [many more now] … We want money, land and transportation. We want the abolition of the National Banks…. We want the accursed foreclosure system wiped out… We will stand by our homes and stay by our firesides by force if necessary, and we will not pay our debts to the loan-shark companies until the Government pays its debts to us.
The people are at bay, let the bloodhounds of money who have dogged us thus far beware.

1892 – From the preamble of a convention platform, as read by Ignatius Donnelly in St. Louis, Missouri:
We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot box, the legislature, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized… The newspapers [media] are subsidized or muzzled; public opinion silenced; business prostrate, our homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of the capitalists.
The urban workmen are denied the right of organization for self-protection; imported pauperized labor [now outsourcing] beats down their wages; a hireling standing army… established to shoot them down… The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes…. From the same prolific womb of government injustice we breed two classes — paupers and millionaires [billionaires]…
Pick up an history book or two about the labor movement in America. Reacquaint yourself with the battle that was waged on your behalf. Before you capitulate, and willingly give up all for which they sacrificed, remember who the economy is supposed to serve. It’s not Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, Bank of America, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Koch Industries, or Exxon Mobil, et al. They are using your national resources, both natural and human, in order to produce the profits they hoard. You should have more to show for it than a life spent laboring for an ever-increasing debt to them.


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