On an evening while watching the Rachel Maddow show I heard Mr. EJ Dionne say something that was for me the catalyst of a profound ah-ha moment – you know what I mean suddenly a light snaps on and something you’ve known all of your life without saying it has suddenly been said. He simply remarked that in our system of economics, “capital is more important than labor.”
Within seconds a series of associations popped into my mind: money is more important than people; unearned income is more valuable than earned income thus should be taxed less; retirement based upon accrued wealth is more deserved than retirement based upon earned benefits.
I would even go further and say that in the presence of an unbridled Free Market and vulture Capitalism, labor is indeed the enemy of capital. This is the unstated assertion that supports the belief that while the workers who walked out on strike at Wal-Mart are disruptive-ungrateful-wanting something for nothing slugs, if not just plain foolish, the Walton family who owns Wal-Mart is a clan of heroes in the Capitalist paradigm for paying their employees less than is needed to support a family and offering no benefits. Accordingly, when these worker’s families are forced to go on public assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid in order to survive, the moral responsibility reverts to them and them alone. They become an object of derision by the very people who hold their offices through the legalized corruption of government by big lobbies representing employers like the Waltons. These are the same corrupt individuals who promote that paradigm as a secondary implication of the peddling of influence.
Any political or other leader who dares to elaborate on this inequity too often, too loudly, or too eloquently is immediately labeled a Socialist, a Communist, a Leninist, a Marxist and for those stupid enough to not know their left from their right a Nazi or Fascist. Consequently, terminology like labor’s right to have some ownership in the means of production, alienation of labor, workers rights, Laissez-Faire Capitalism and income distribution equity have been dumb-down and prettied up into “fairness to Middle Class families.” The poor and the working poor are seldom spoken of these days, although Mr. Obama often speaks of giving those outside of the Middle Class a way in. All of this subterfuge and linguistic sleight-of-hand contributes to a pervasive and pernicious ideology by people such as the Waltons which can be summed up in, “we hired them; we can kill them.” This belief has been given the force of law by their allies in the brothel formally known as the United States Congress.
I subscribe to the Mayan belief in a radical change in the world on December 21st, but do not accept the validity of end time prophecies. Thus, I believe that we are entering a shift in consciousness for good or ill - it’s hard for me to tell. However, I propose that it is possible for us to determine the nature and quality of this shift for ourselves. One way is for labor - workers - to take back control of the language of our liberation. We need to begin to think and speak of ourselves as an indispensable source of production and as wealth engendering. No fortune has ever been made without us. We are not just the chattel of Free Market Capitalism and a consumer culture gone insane.
The intellectual sludge born in a toxic stew of corporate arrogance and gluttony which holds that big money can continue to earn big money without an economically empowered, constantly expanding Working/Middle Class is evidence of the mind numbing properties of chronic greed. The consumer orgy which corporate America has encouraged, indeed mandated, is not possible without a fully enfranchised, stable and economically viable Working Class. You may find this hard to believe, I did, but I actually heard a CEO of a Fortune 500 company say as much recently.
Since language is the currency of a new and shared consciousness, it follows then that it is time for workers in this country to stand up and demand clearly and loudly the respect they deserve as creators of wealth both in production and consumption. It won’t do any longer to consider workers as red marks on company balance sheets under the heading Cost of Doing Business. We are business. We are the financial system. Without us nothing works, nothing runs and the great engine of the economy stalls like a faulty motor.
If this is Socialism so be it. It is none of the other aforementioned political/economic systems, and it would behoove those who don’t know the difference to read a damn book once in a while - if they can read that is. The question becomes, is it worse to be a so-called Socialist than it is to be an entrepreneur who benefits from an undeclared Socialism by working their employees for much less than is needed to subsist while throwing them off on the public dole to subsidize their income, thus smugly expecting the taxpayer to pick up the slack?
Labor might want to remind the consumer public that when people don’t make enough to live on and must rely upon federal or state government assistance the five dollar shirt happily purchased at Wal-Mart actually costs much more. Perhaps, when Wal-Mart patrons rushing to save money realize that they will pay for those savings out of their family budget in sales tax or state tax or federal tax they won’t consider the bargains at Wal-Mart such bargains.
My husband Bradley believes that an excellent way to help reduce taxation and perhaps the deficit would be to force people like the Waltons to pay back in taxes the money that must be taken from the tax coffers by their employees in order to live. In addition, since these are the business owners supporting a government culture that resists single payer medical coverage and hates Obama Care, they might be required to help subsidize their community hospitals to defer the cost of treating their uninsured employees.
I’m not an expert on tax policy or deficit reduction; however, I know a little something about working for a living. The idea that labor is a charitable investment and/or a parasitic drain on the likes of Wal-Mart is patently stupid if not insane. It is unlikely that we will hear our elected officials, in office or running for office, emphasize this so we must emphasize it. Without us there are no great industries, no great corporations, no small or large businesses - no Wal-Marts! In the final analysis capital and labor are equal partners in the creation of any economy, particularly the Free Market Economy. They should enjoy equal respect and recognition - if for no other reason than because the vast majority of this country works for a living, and we are the consumers of the products of all industries, corporations and businesses small and large. The people who squall and whine about paying taxes at the top end of the income scale are often the same people who are more than happy to take advantage of the government’s ability to subsidize the income of their underpaid employees. What can we call such infants save entitlement babies or Welfare monarchs?