Sunday, October 22, 2017

Class Solidarity: Presidential Appeal for US Workers to Cough up More Cash.

Does anyone really believe the hands over hearts is sincere? Aren't they all draft dodges anyway?

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So four out of the five living US presidents turned up at a benefit concert in Austin Texas for hurricane victims, in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.  This is part of the America is One tour that has raised $31 million so far. The present Predator in Chief is richer than all of them worth some $3.1 billion. Carter is the poorest it seems with the Obama’s a close second. Obama’s net worth has skyrocketed since leaving the White House. He received $400,000 for one 90-minute speech. Bill Clinton, of the famous cigar placing fame, is worth about $80 million. Bill and Hillary earned $240 million the last 15 years according to Forbes and poor little Chelsea has to live in a $10 million flat. Of course, by Gates, Buffet, Soros, and Oprah’s standards they are modest earners.

As much as they hate each other they are putting their personal differences aside and class solidarity first.  They want the American working class to cough up some money to help people that have suffered in the recent market driven disasters, but most importantly to push the idea that we are all in this together, there is no rich and poor, no haves and have nots, no capitalists and workers. We are all just Americans dammit.

I was in a burger place the other night and some of you might be aware, I am not shy; I do tend to talk to people. As I was ordering my fish sandwich (meat makes me too aggressive) I noticed a name tattooed on the young Latina’s arm.

“Is that your name?” I asked.
“No.” She replied, “It’s my little girl”

We talked a bit more, she was very friendly which is always good as we can learn about other people’s lives, what they’re thinking about the world, how it treats them.  It’s also a credit to working class people that we can work in the most oppressive conditions for low wages and still be polite and humane. She was married and told me her age, I think it was 24.

I said a few words about how difficult it is to survive, how one is never sure what might come up next. She lived in town and I commented on the state of the rents. A damn closet can cost $1000 a month here. The average two bedroom apartment is around $2000 or so.

Her response to the cost of accommodation was “Yes it’s a calamity.”  

I was a bit surprised at the use of that term calamity, I don’t hear it too often and she said it so matter-of-factly. I thought about it afterwards as I talked with the friend with me.  If you look up calamity you will find definitions like, “A state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss.” You will also find “Catastrophe” “Misfortune”  “Tragedy”. Earning 400,000 for a 90-minute speech is not a calamity. Being in a family whose net worth is half a billion dollars is not a calamity---for them. There are millions of us here in the US who are facing calamity and homelessness daily, even when there are no hurricanes.

Housing is a tragedy in the US. Not because we can’t build decent housing, but like medical care, education or any other major social need housing is a business----that’s a calamity. There are daily tragedies like the mass shootings that are so common and indeed environmental and other such catastrophes caused by capitalism-----system calamities.  We call the people that legislators in the capitalist parties have build our housing “developers”, that’s a calamity too.

At the moment, the media is fairly silent on the conditions on the ground in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico except to talk of how people stuck together and helped each other. This only goes so far as they don’t want people getting carried away and collectively, and in an organized way, directing the anger at such tragedies at the cause of them, the capitalist system and those whose policies make the tragedies inevitable. We pointed out some of the culprits in a previous commentary; the home builders in Texas who bribed politicians in order to ensure that no regulations were passed that hindered their projects and profits. This increased the savagery and destruction that hurricane Harvey wreaked in Texas and Louisiana.We even found pictures of them.

So the present and former presidents turn up at a concert not to point to these culprits, but to cover for them, to ensure we don't think about them as legislators and people whose policies are to blame. They can't as they're in with them aren't they and have to convince us we are all in this together. In calamities like those we are experiencing due to climate change and the lack of regulation of any kind, our collective humanity always arises and we help each other, we also tend to self organize and construct some form of public safety. This occurred in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

Another fear that has driven these nasty characters in the video above to stand together, is that the aftermath of these hurricanes are equally as destructive. The amount of pollution, sewage and chemicals that are released in to the air and water is staggering. This is especially the case in Texas where toxic chemicals were released in to water and air after chemical plants were damaged and shut down. The environmental devastation of the BP disaster in the gulf is also unknown and certainly not talked about.

All he nationalistic propaganda about “one America” from a bunch of millionaires is an attempt to soften the mood, head off the rage that can build up as the long term affects of these disasters are felt. Part of it is our fault. Passivity and blind trust are not virtues in these situations.

What hypocrites and liars they are when you think about it. Not only have they all participated in the attacks on our living standards, they have taken the lives of working class youth under the false claims that they are defending our freedoms and material conditions that these very people are undermining.  The child of the young worker I reference above will be a target for the military recruiter. Smiling Jimmy Carter used the Taft Hartley against the miners in 1978 and began the de-regulation that Reagan expanded. They are all war criminals. Bush is responsible for millions of dead and displaced persons and Obama, increased Bush’s drone wars and also aggressively supported and armed the Saudi’s in the slaughter of the people of Yemen. Bush the father is the same.

Remember the factory in Sudan that Clinton bombed to the ground claiming it was some sort of al Qaeda bomb factory? It turned out to be a major producer of medicines for the people in the area. Christopher Hitchens said of the bombing, "....what was the hurry? A hurry that was panicky enough for the president and his advisors to pick the wrong objective and then, stained with embarrassment and retraction, to refuse the open inquiry that could have settled the question in the first place? There is really only one possible answer to that question. Clinton needed to look "presidential" for a day."

And Clinton bombed and broke up Serbia.  I remember flying by prop plane from Vienna to Skopje in 1999 and seeing all the bridges on the Danube destroyed by US bombs. We don't get to vote on this stuff.

Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Blimes claimed that the cost of the Iraq War on the US at more than $3 trillion what they described as a “conservative” estimate and a 2013 study pointed out that U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war had risen to $134.7 billion from $33 billion two years earlier.”

So there is plenty of money available, we do not have to dig deeper, hand over more cash than we have already. A $20 an hour minimum wage is easily affordable it's allocation of money in society that's a problem not a lack of it. We have all paid dearly for the decisions these five made and make as presidents, all of us through financial sacrifice, and some of us through the loss of loved ones. Recognize this stuff for what it really is, propaganda.

We commented in an earlier post on this blog about what workers and our organizations could be doing as a response to these tragedies.  What is clear, or should be, is that the five people in the video are no friends of working class people. They have collectively driven the US working class backwards, and Trump will apply the whip with a vengeance. Do not be fooled by the Drone King Obama’s sharp wit and slick style, he is no fool and a consummate bourgeois politician.  He didn’t become head of the Harvard Law Review without being a trusted member of the team.

Their efforts to convince us that they are on our side; that we are all one as Americans in a classless, egalitarian state is insulting, surely most American workers don’t believe it. The consequence of believing it and tolerating it is a working class family, in full time jobs barely able to keep a roof over their heads.

We should be proud of the NFL players protesting today rather than have any reverence for the guys in this video. It’s time to put a stop to this charade.

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