fresh voices from the front lines of change







You wouldn't know it from looking around you but this country has grown much richer over last 30 years. We have a vastly higher GDP, higher average income, much more wealth... But American workers haven’t shared in it. It is all captured by a few billionaires and multi-multi-millionaires at the top who own the big corporations and Wall Street firms. As they increased their wealth they also increased their influence over our government, until now after cutting their taxes and giving their corporations more and more taxpayer subsidies, now politicians say our government is "broke" and has to cut back on the things government does for We, the People.

Look What We've Done

Look what we have done to our working people! Watch this video, Look What We've Done, by Pete Rivera (former lead singer & drummer of Rare Earth).

Pete wrote, (emphasis added)

Hello Everyone: My name is Peter Rivera and I was the original lead singer and drummer of the group Rare Earth from 69-75. I grew up in Detroit, but have not lived there in over 30 years. I have fond memories of growing up in the Motor City. Friends and relatives of mine have been telling me of their sadness over the state of conditions at home.

My father was a factory worker, as were many of my relatives. A very good friend of mine from high school became successful in the auto leasing and sales business. Over the past couple of years he has been very saddened over the industry at large because of the plant closings, the many layoffs, and the growing fears of the people, who like my father, have devoted their lives in the belief that they were laying the foundation of security for their families. Even with that devotion, they had the rug pulled out from under them at such a critical time.

My friend told me that I should write a song about what we, as an American society, have done to our workers all over the country. The reasons for this condition are many I’m sure, but I don’t profess to be a know-it-all about this subject. I wrote the song using my observations, experiences and compassion for my hometown.

Setting Worker Against Worker

A major component of this war on working people and the middle class has been the ability of companies to move jobs across the border to thugocracies, and then tell workers here to work harder for less or lose their jobs, too. The other day in, What "Free Trade" Has Cost The World, I wrote,

If you take a job away from someone who is paid a reasonable wage because they enjoy the protections and prosperity of democratic government, move it across a border, and give it to someone living under a thugocracy, forced to work for pennies with no protections whatsoever, it should be just plain obvious that the worker on our side of the border and the worker on the other side of the border are not going to be better off. And when you do this on a massive scale it just stands to reason that most people on both sides of the border are going to be worse off.

But propaganda being what it is we were somehow convinced to try a worldwide experiment in taking good jobs from democracies and turning them into bad jobs in thugocracies. Now, of course, the experiment has run its course and we can see the results.

And of course we can all see the results: we are worse off.

Sen. Sanders Makes A Difference

In January Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders noticed that the gift shop at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History carried bronze busts of American presidents that were made in China. He did something about that and got a commitment by the Smithsonian to sell only made-in-America products at one gift shop, and work to carry American-made products otherwise. This is from a Sanders-office press release:

Museum executives said one history museum gift shop, called “The Price of Freedom,” will sell only merchandise manufactured in the United States. The new policy will take effect within three months, they said, in time for the busy summer vacation tourist season. More domestically-made items also will be sold at gift shops at the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and the museums that house collections of art by American painters and artists from around the world.

So that covers a gift shop at one museum at the Smithsonian. So why we don’t impose a more stringent “Buy America” policy in all of our government-related buying?

We Can Change The Rules

Why don't we have a universal Buy American policy from our own government? You have no doubt heard that the Stimulus Package encouraged wind energy, and we ended up using the money to buy wind turbines from China. There is no reason we could not have used that to shore up our own domestic green manufacturing.

We should require that we buy American for government purchases. We can get out of WTO restriction on having a Buy American policy with a 60-day notice. It is time to do that.

American Jobs

Here is a video titled, Tell Philips: Don't Pull the Plug on American Jobs, talking about one Phillips plant closing in Sparta, Tennessee. They have a website, Tell Phillips, with the same old story:

Last November, corporate officials informed the more than 270 employees of the Philips Luminaires plant in Sparta, Tenn., that it would be shutting down the nearly 40-year-old lighting fixture factory and moving most of its production to Mexico by 2012.

They also have a petition that you can sign voicing your support for the workers. I came across this video and story in a Daily Kos user diary titled, What Happened to Made in the U.S.A.?

Here is Look What We've Done, bigger:

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