2012-08-10 / Columnists

The Progressive

Hot And Humid
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Many of us are enthralled with the Olympics held in London this summer. We are encouraged by the human interest aspect of the many difficulties the athletes must overcome to achieve their day of glory. A few weeks ago, the Daily Mail of Great Britain had an article regarding the training of gymnastic hopefuls in China beginning at the age of five. Photographic evidence of training methods used is horrifying. Chinese training methods are cruel, painful, and for many of us in the West could be classified as abuse.

This article reminded this writer of the necessity to evaluate our approach to the continuous admiration by many Americans of the so called Chinese economic success. Chinese economic success is based on social and cultural upheaval, horrible working conditions, increased inequality, and ethnic conflict. Our nation needs to emphasize the humane aspects of economic development which include worker rights and participation, an adequate standard of living for the citizens of the nation, and growth accomplishments based on manufacturing and not the casino and chaotic corruption of a rigged marketplace. Unfortunately, we are becoming a nation that competes with the Brazilian, Russian, Indian, and Chinese developing economies with an increasing reliance on authoritarian control of the economy, an increased income inequality, barriers to an adequate standard of living for our youth, austerity that is painful to many, and financial corruption.

This summer some New York politicians are clamoring for the acceptance of this city by the Olympic committee as the host for the games in 2024. This is considered to be a catalyst to economic growth and recognition. It is not a proposition supported by evidence of Olympic Games held by cities in recent years. This city would have monetary obligations caused by hosting such an event that would result in a burdensome effect on our budgetary means. Traffic jams would be a burden to residents and business. Our city needs to develop a plan to diversify the economy and not rely so exclusively on Wall Street to survive. Bread and Circuses for the masses leads only to destruction as history has taught.

Attendance at powerful, action driven, comic book hero movies is a summer ritual Americans enjoy. This summer, in Colorado this ritual was marred by violence. Mayor Bloomberg on the radio urged all police forces in the country to strike for better gun control legislation in order to prevent future tragedies. This comment raises some interesting questions. Is our mayor, who has never expressed any sympathy to workers and their unions, now a supporter of industrial actions by workers for social and economic justice? Would he advocate changes in the Taylor law, that bars strike action by public employees in this state, and allow the NYPD strike capability? All of us know the answer to these questions is negative. Authoritarian societies do not allow democratic processes in the workplace. Maybe, our hot and humid weather has gotten to His Excellency the Mayor.

This summer the management of Con Edison locked out the workers in order to weaken the defined retirement pension plan. Caterpillar, one of our nation’s most profitable manufacturing companies, which is running considerable profits during this recession, is demanding significant concessions from the union that represents their workers. Our job creators are squeezing our growth and wealth creators – the worker. Without labor, wealth cannot be created. This summer has been a summer of dreams in London, horror in Colorado, and continued pressure on the American worker. There still is no contract for Verizon workers. Labor Day is coming and instead of just putting our whites away, we need to address the increasing attacks on labor. Pressure for the presidential candidates to address the need for worker strength in the economic processes is of paramount importance.

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