The Mason Missile, January 29, 2019

Greetings!

The shutdown of the federal government-and the forced unemployment, or employment without pay, of approximately 800,000 federal employees- is AT LAST over. The almost 800,000 federal workers included air-traffic controllers, TSA agents screening bags at airports, EPA and OSHA technicians inspecting the safety of the environment and worksites, inspectors of food and drugs, Coast Guard personnel and FBI agents; civil servants (like I was for the City of Philadelphia), not well paid but earning a living, sustaining our families and ourselves, working people like you, the focus of vilification by right-wing propagandists for decades; like the school teachers in Michigan under Scott Walker-how many bought into the slander that Walker put upon them, that they were such horrible people because they (allegedly) had such great pay and benefits, sue to their having a union-so, instead of breaking their union and taking away their benefits, why don’t such people JOIN a union, so THEY can get such goodies? There are people like this, who are in a miserable situation, and instead of joining others to alleviate their situation, they want others to also be miserable. (I grew up among people like that.)

THESE are the horrible federal “bureaucrats”  the right-wing propagandists have for decades, have vilified as oppressing the American people-particularly the entrepreneurs who just want to do their capitalist thing and make all Americans prosper-a myth typified in the ravings, uh, writings of Ayn Rand, and which they tried to implement into public policy-weaken workers’ unions; hamper regulations on their activities-pollution, investments, workplace safety, equal opportunity and discrimination; lessen taxes on corporations so they “can invest in new equipment and hire more workers”; and diminish welfare benefits, even those for the elderly, children, and retirees.

It never works out like that in real life. Taxes are cut for corporations and the uber-wealthy, and they invest their extra money in offshore bank accounts- as was shown in the cases of the Paradise Papers and the Panama Papers. The environment is mangled due to greater pollution from car exhaust, chemicals spilling into rivers (thus contaminating sources of drinking water), excessive mining creating earthquakes, polar icecaps melting, and other forms of meteorological disasters. Factories, instead of hiring more workers in THIS country, set up in low-wage regions that have no real worker protections-and finally end up in nations with repressive governments who happily accommodate the companies’ anti-union mood.

In the new model of capitalism-as was practiced my Mitt Romney and his alma mater, Bain Capital- a hedge fund purchases a corporation, loads it up with debt it could not possibly pay off, then sells off parts of it, increasing the profit for the investors-and leaving workers without pay, without work, and without hope-except for some raving maniac who wants to float into office by telling jobless workers that their REAL enemy is the dark-skinned “inferiors” who live off welfare, who commit crimes, who use the government for their advantage (like no one should?), and who want to rape your sister.  

I always wondered why conservatives and other corporate apologists have a hatred for welfare: it can’t just be their whining about “lazy welfare bums who don’t work”-cutting their welfare benefits would never close any federal deficit, and sick, elderly people and children, aren’t in any shape to work some jobs.

Plus, with the globalization of the economy, with the shifting of investments, and factories, from one low-wage regions of the country to the next-and even from one low-wage country to the next- jobs aren’t always available, with factories closing down, leaving workers unemployed, and so they’re not able to purchase goods at local stores, closing them down in turn; and local governments can’t collect as much as before in taxes, thereby having to cut back services.

There are several factors to this conservative welfare bashing;

With a welfare system and a labor movement, workers could maintain a level of independence-not complete, but some-from corporate managers, who believe their own propaganda about their own infallibility in managing the economy.

It creates a scapegoat like I said earlier, a THOSE PEOPLE for working people only slightly higher up the economic scale, who are also trying to pay bills and get by.  Throw race into the mix, and you get a source of division which politicians, subsidized by corporations, love to exploit-and working and low-income people of BOTH races remain in the same difficult economic situation. For the white working class, the false drug of “racial superiority” does no good.

As a working person, a trade unionist, and as a Democratic Socialist, I must continue to point this out and work to correct it. Bye!

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The Mason Missile, December 29, 2018

Greetings!

I hope you’re enjoying your holidays. Unfortunately, there is the new December tradition-along with caroling, the ugly sweater, and Aunt Clara’s fruit cake- of religious extremists demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas,” complaining that they’re not allowed to talk about Christmas.

For conservatives, it’s a zero-sum game for them: more rights for traditionally oppressed minorities-like Jews and Muslims in this country- means less rights for the traditionally dominant groups, as if rights were a tangible commodity. The reality doesn’t matter to them, it’s their perception of reality; they project what they want to impose on others-like the dominance of Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths, or no faith at all- upon others. It’s like the homophobic bully who beats up gays because he himself is afraid that he’s gay (like it’s a bad thing).

Look at Wisconsin and Michigan- Democrats have won governorships in those states in 2018, and the lame duck Republican legislature- “elected” from heavily gerrymandered districts-got to work in passing legislation stripping the new governor of his authority to make appointments to certain agencies; in Michigan, Republicans did the same to the newly-elected governor, attorney-general, and secretary of state (all women). In 2016, in North Carolina, Roy Cooper, the Democrat, defeated Pat McCrory for governor, and the Republican legislature proceeded to strip the governor of some of his authority.

Fortunately, the efforts by Republicans are being challenged in the courts and by grassroots activists-did they think we would just take it lying down, allow ourselves to be oppressed and repressed? Apparently they do, they act like there would be no resistance.

In Georgia and Florida, during their gubernatorial elections, there were voting applications placed “on hold,” voting stations closing, efforts to discourage people from voting-like when, in Georgia, county officials ordered people at a senior citizens’ center off the bus taking them to the polling station-and absentee and mail-in ballots all of a sudden going missing. Remember, Brian Kemp, who ran against Stacy Abrams in Georgia, was still serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State, supervising the election system.

Remember this when Republicans whine about “elitist” Democratic liberals, and pretending to be of, by, and for the people; if they were so damn confident about their popularity, why repress voting? Do they expect us to, like I said, just take it? Are they just trying to wear us down, drain our financial and emotional resources so we give up?  There might be a hiatus, a time-out, but we get back into the fight.

(Still, burnout, wearing one’s self out, is a problem among activists. We need to take care of ourselves; don’t worry, there will be others keeping the fight going while we’re on vacation.)

Frontiers of Free Enterprise- General Motors, like the other auto giants, took a bail-out package from the federal government after its bankruptcy in 2009, costing taxpayers $11.2 billion, after the government spent $49.5 billion to save the company. (Last I heard, there were no cries about “lazy welfare moochers” then.)  (http://time.com/82953/general-motors-bailout-cost-taxpayers-11-2-billion/) Plus, the tax cuts the Republicans passed in 2017 were-the same old line that nobody believes-to stimulate the economy, rebuild equipment and hire more workers.

BUT- Right after Thanksgiving, GM announced it would close down five of its plants in North America, thereby laying off 14,700 workers. (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/26/general-motors-set-to-cut-workforce-as-slowing-sales-and-steel-tariffs-bite) Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra received a salary on $22 million. (https://moneyandmarkets.com/barra-most-unpopular-ceo-gm/) Even while crying poormouth, cutting salaries and jobs for workers, and demanding tax breaks, corporate executives continue to attain huge perks.

The same holds true for another venerable American brand, Sears, under its CEO Eddie Lampert, formerly of Goldman Sachs, a disciple of Ayn Rand, and with no experience in retail sales; applying the idea of cutthroat competition to units of his company (which acquired Kmart) and demanding they compete with one another.  (https://www.salon.com/2013/07/18/ayn_rand_killed_sears_partner/) Sears under Lampert sold off and closed hundreds of Sears brand and Kmart stores, and laid off thousands of employees-while paying its executives $9.9 million in perks. (https://thinkprogress.org/sears-lavishes-ceo-with-pay-and-perks-while-laying-off-workers-and-bilking-taxpayers-d6dabcf9762d/)

Instead of more employees, fewer and more laid off; instead of more facilities, stores and plants closing. Corporate executives prosper from their incompetence, and workers get nothing. That was the same model practiced by Bain Capital, under Mitt Romney. The ideas put forth in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World are even truer now than back when the IWW was founded in 1905:

“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

“Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”

I’m not entirely into the IWW program, but the idea is the same-we workers, and low and middle-income people must educate ourselves and then organize to reclaim what remains of what we call “democracy” in this country, and to move it further.  

And on that note, Happy New Year!

New Year Party GIF by Omer - Find & Share on GIPHY

With voter ID on hold in Wisconsin, Republicans call for vigilantes

Since the Republicans can’t win on the basis of ideas, they are resorting to terrorism-a low greade, school-bully terrorism, but terrorism nonetheless. Are we ready to FIGHT this?

 

With voter ID on hold in Wisconsin, Republicans call for vigilantes

via With voter ID on hold in Wisconsin, Republicans call for vigilantes.

Tea Party Miltia Group Threats to Arrest Democrats at Polls! | Americans Against the Tea Party

The milities are not even discreate about trying to intimidate people from voting. How disgusting! And they think we’re just going to sit back and TAKE it. NEVER! People, BLED and DIED for the right of others to vote, and we WILL NOT give it up!

Tea Party Miltia Group Threats to Arrest Democrats at Polls! | Americans Against the Tea Party

via Tea Party Miltia Group Threats to Arrest Democrats at Polls! | Americans Against the Tea Party.