2011-06-10 / Columnists

The Progressive

By John Paul Culotta

A few days ago, I was in a doctor’s waiting room when other people waiting with me began to discuss the current economic crisis. One man told me his neighbor has not worked full time in four years. One mother complained her son, who recently graduated from a prominent university (also many of his friends), could not secure employment.

High food and energy prices was the complaint of one elderly gentleman. Another couple said a family business successful for 40 years is now barely solvent because customers no longer are buying. Newspaper reports also reinforce dire economic problems for many Americans. Foreclosures are still a major problem.

Unemployment rates are persistently high. Economic growth is weak. HBO recently had a major movie special called “Too Big To Fail” which accurately depicted the greed and fraud of the leaders of our major financial institutions. Americans are now being told the nation cannot afford Medicare and Medicaid, fire and police protection, libraries, and workers earning wages that ensure a dignified existence.

Our tabloids and television media are busy reporting on the alleged sexual activity of the head of the International Monetary Fund. His alleged sexual activity and abuse of an immigrant hotel maid is a physical manifestation of what is happening in our body politic and economy – that is, the more powerful in society taking advantage of the weak! This is class warfare but in reverse! Most of us are horrified when we hear of the powerful abusing women who in the social strata cannot defend themselves and every day we witness this in many clear and undeniable ways. Parking tickets are fixed.

American children are separated from their parents because the parents do not have legal status to remain in the nation. Union members are denied collective bargaining rights. Workers who work in our hospitals and nursing homes are not given health care coverage by their employers.

Other workers who desire union representation in their workplaces are harassed.

Americans in their workplace are not given fulltime status by their employers to avoid paying for benefits for the employees.

Many people are forced to work as independent contractors although for all practical purposes the contractor is under the supervision, direction and control of the corporation that uses the services of the alleged contractors. Banks charge exorbitant interest rates that resemble mafia loan shark rates. Too many of us work in hostile work environments where powerful people can strip us of our dignity if we wish to continue our employment. This unfortunate union maid is courageous in filing charges against such a powerful man as Straus-Khan. Our economy is being raped.

A few weeks ago the head of the AFLCIO, Richard L. Trumka, has warned the leaders of the Democratic Party that the unions may not automatically give the support to party candidates that do not serve the needs and desires of workers. This is a positive message because too often our two party system appears to serve the corporate and financial institutions’ needs and desires.

Our financial institutions have been rewarded and received bailouts so our economy would not collapse but it is now time to cease raping the American worker.

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