America – Union Made

Growing up, there were few things more important to Dad than solidarity with his union brothers and sisters. If there was a strike on, we participated. Didn’t matter who; didn’t matter where. Migrant farmers, teachers, nurses, teamsters. The union is a brotherhood. A family. It was unity. And it mattered. A lot.

The union was Dad’s religion. He believed in it’s power and it’s purpose. He understood that without them, the poor had no chance. No hope. No future. He would be absolutely livid at what’s happening in this country. Honestly, I’m surprised he hasn’t come up out of the grave and started knocking some heads together. He was that committed to the cause.

I’m disgusted at how much hate and vitriol has been thrown on unions and unionized employees starting with the two favorite targets: lazy municipal workers and lazy teachers. Do they exist. Yes. Are they the majority. Not even close. Unions are comprised of people. All kinds of people. Some of them lazy. Most, however, are hardworking, conscientious people trying to make a living.

The Verizon strike isn’t about health care or sick time or how many vacation days an employee gets. This is the final battle in the war against the middle class. A war on us. Our families. Our way of life. Our future.

If Verizon breaks their union, how long before your employer decides that you get too many holidays? How long until your employer decides that they won’t contribute a dime to your health insurance? How long until your employer decides that you can do the work of two people?

We, the workers built this country and it’s greatest companies. Without us, they have nothing. There’s no industry. There’s no wealth. There’s nothing.

Unions set the standard.

Unions matter.

Unions built the middle class and made it strong. Right now, the unions need the middle class to return the favor.

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Job Creators

That’s the latest name for the wealthy.

Job Creators.

As if the rest of the country is waiting around for the 1% to get their act together and get on with the creating.

I don’t know any wealthy people. I imagine they are busy, creating jobs. Perhaps the jobs are shy and they have to coax them from the corner. Or, maybe they are growing them in the basement with a grow lamp.

I’m sure they’ll be a big announcement when the jobs are ready.

Funny thing, I always thought I knew job creators. But since I don’t know any wealthy people, I must be mistaken.

I wonder what I should call the shop owner that opens a store and hires two sales people?

I wonder what I should call the artists/artisans that have a gallery where they have people do stuff for them for money?

I wonder what I should call the owner of the dance studio that tripled in size in the last five years and added loads of new instructors?

I wonder what I call the architect that brings on a new graduate to help with small projects?

I used to call them friends and neighbors.

I used to call them the middle class.

I used to call them the future.

I know one thing, I can’t call them job creators.

They’re not wealthy enough for that.

Entitled

You’re goddamn right I’m entitled.

Know why?

Stuff doesn’t get built without me. Kids don’t get educated without me. Patients don’t get care without me.

This country doesn’t exist.

Without me.

That’s right. I said it.

Nothing gets done without me.

Me.

I am the middle class.

I’m more important than the wealthy that this Congress is hell bent on protecting.

Because of the recession I’m more lower middle than middle middle but I’ve been poorer than this before and things will bounce back (I hope). I have the important things: health, family, a warm puppy.

What I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around is this ridiculous idea that by raising taxes on the wealthy we kill the economy. Ten years ago the Bush administration cut taxes on the wealthy; the so-called “job creators”.

What happened?

Did the economy expand and lift all boats? Did the middle class experience job security and prosperity?

Ah, no.

In fact, more jobs were lost by the middle class than in any other time in our history. Wealth has concentrated at the top and the middle class started to die. It’s almost done.

So what have we learned?

Tax cuts for the wealthy do not create jobs or stimulate economic growth.

So why are we still having a debate about this?

Following World War II we had a tremendous boom in this country. More people owning homes and automobiles. More kids being sent to college. More security and more prosperity.

Know what else we had?

A tax rate of 90% on the wealthy. NINETY PERCENT. And they stayed wealthy. They invested their profits back into their companies and everyone prospered. Everyone.

Know what the current tax rate is? 35%. Yup. 1/3 of what they paid historically.

And where does that leave the country?

In a huge recession.

Wealth hoarded by 1% of the population. Public education in disarry from years of deepening cuts. An infrastructure that is, quite literally, falling down. A high infant mortality rate and some of the most severe poverty in the industrialized world.

And I’m called entitled. You’re goddamn right I’m entitled.

I’m entitled to a living wage.

I’m entitled to not being bankrupted by a sudden catastrophic illness.

I’m entitled to expect that my children will receive a proper education in a public school that doesn’t suck.

This fight isn’t about legislating the poor into prosperity; it’s about not killing the middle class. It’s about being fucking fair. It’s time to reframe the argument. The bullshit arguments about welfare queens and crackheads are just that, bullshit.

This isn’t about middle versus the poor. It’s about them versus everyone else.

It’s about the middle class.

It’s about me.

It’s about fucking time.

They only call it class warfare when we fight back.